Boilermaker-born advancing career academically and professionally in policy and advocacy


Shelby Swain
Hometown: Fishers, IN
High school: Hamilton Southeastern High School
Major: Quantitative Analysis in Agricultural Economics
Why did you come to Purdue: I am the 16th person in my family to attend Purdue; I started attending Purdue football games when I was 3 years-old.  I grew up a Boilermaker, and though I looked at a few other schools, Purdue has always been home.
Coolest spot on campus:  The swings on the playground by Purdue West
Favorite spot in Lafayette: Frozen Custard downtown Lafayette
Favorite local eatery:  Arni’s
Best place to get coffee: Starbucks, mostly out of convenience
Favorite Purdue tradition:  I AM AN AMERICAN before every football game
Top three influences at Purdue:

  • My family
  • Moving away and living in DC for a summer
  • My Purdue community, such as my friends, professors, mentors, etc.

Five words to describe Purdue: Tradition, Regal, Inspiring, Rare, Humble
Favorite involvement at Purdue: My favorite involvement at Purdue has been in my sorority, Sigma Kappa, the Purdue Foundation Student Board because of the people, the message and the values of the organizations.  My favorite involvement in the College of Agriculture was my time serving on the Ag Council because of the efforts made to bring the College together.
Top five highlights of your career:

  • 2015-2020 College of Agriculture Strategic Planning Committee Student Rep.
  • Lobbied for US House Bill 1599 Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, which passed in the fall of 2015
  • Met Representative Paul Ryan, among other various US and Indiana State Congressional Members through my internships
  • Life as a 500 Festival Princess in the month of May
  • Attending AFA in Kansas City, MO

Something you wish you would have done at Purdue: Go bowling at the Union.  It’s the last thing I have left to check off my Purdue bucket list
Places you have been as a Purdue student:

  • Study Abroad – Haiti Service-Learning Winter Break Trip
  • Internships – Indianapolis and Washington, D.C.
  • Conferences – AFA Leaders’ Conference in Kansas City, MO

Favorite Company you interned for: Indiana Farm Bureau
Beef, Pork, Chicken, Seafood: all of the above
John Deere, Case, New Holland, Caterpillar: John Deere
Ford, Chevy, Dodge, Toyota: Ford, but I drive a soccer-mom Honda CR-V
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall: Fall
Planting, Growing, Harvest: Growing; my sister and I would drive by the fields everyday on our way to feed our 4-H animals and keep track of the row crops growing.
Baby, Weaned, Market, Reproducing: Baby, especially calves and piglets
Favorite thing you like about Agriculture: The community it fosters
Where would you have gone to school if you couldn’t choose Purdue: Texas A&M
Have to redo college in a major not in Ag: Major in Krannert with a minor in Math
Favorite club/organization: Ag Ambassadors
Favorite Student-led event/initiative: Hammer Down Hunger during Ag Week
Favorite Purdue event: PMO Christmas Show is our family tradition
Favorite dining court: Earhart
Favorite place to study: Krannert lobby or AGAD 121     
Over your career where were you most likely to be found on campus:  Krannert or close by
Favorite thing about CoA: The “We are a family and we succeed as a family” mentality and comradery
Favorite thing about AGEC: There is a wide variety of faculty with all sorts of interests who are open to student involvement and student interaction.  We also have a ton of fun in the department.
Favorite thing about your major: I have really enjoyed doing independent research and specializing in a topic that is unique to me.
Favorite class: Golf Class
Favorite professor: Dr. Downey, Dr. Gunderson, Dr. Gray, Dr. Russell, Dean Akridge, Dr. Fernandez
Coolest project: The final College of Agriculture 2015-2020 Strategic Plan and my completed research thesis
Three biggest accomplishments:

  • 2015 500 Festival Princess
  • 2015-2020 College of Agriculture Strategic Planning Committee Student Rep.
  • Earning my dream job with my dream company with the ability to continue my plan of advancing my degree at my dream institution.

Things on your resume not listed above:             

  • Boiler Gold Ambassadors-Purdue Football
  • Purdue Department of Agriculture Economics Envoy
  • Department of Agricultural Economics Class of 2017 Mentor
  • Purdue University College of Agriculture Issues 360 Class 1 Fellow
  • Department of Agricultural Economics Class of 2018 Mentor
  • Athletic Affairs Committee Student Representative
  • Purdue College of Agriculture Ag Ambassador
  • Purdue Foundation Student Board Member
  • Purdue Gimlet Greek Leadership Honorary
  • Purdue Collegiate Farm Bureau Member
  • Hamilton County 4-H Club Co-Leader

Three words to describe you: Loving, Blessed, Outgoing
What are you passionate for: I am most passionate about serving others and serving to my best ability.  I want to help create impact and make a difference and I feel I can do that best by serving other people.
What intrigues you about the Ag industry: The Ag industry has so many facets and roles to play in the world.  I think the most intriguing thing is its ability to reach a broad spectrum of people.  There are very few industries that can create the impact and change in the world that Agriculture can, and I have always wanted to be a part of this revolution.  I think the industry is at an exciting and invigorating point in this century and I love being in the middle of it all.
What motivates you: I am motivated by the thought that I have the ability to influence just one person’s life everyday through my interactions and my day-to-day activities.  Just as I am passionate about serving, I am motivated to help impact other people’s lives in some way.  This mindset comes from the motivation my family brings to my life and the community that has pushed me to continue to be the best version of myself.
Favorite quote:

  • “Live simply, love generously, care deeply, speak kindly, leave the rest to God.” – Ronald Reagan
  •  “When God sees you doing your part, developing what He has given you, then He will do His part and open doors that no man can shut.”
  •  “I find that the harder I work; the more luck I seem to have” – Thomas Jefferson

Personal Motto: Work hard, stay humble and make today better than yesterday.  Other times I needed to be reminded: fake it until you make it.
Accepted employment:
Full-time              Indiana Farm Bureau, Inc. as an Associate Policy Analyst in Indianapolis, IN
Part-time             Agricultural Economics Graduate Student at Purdue University
Where do you want to end up: I would love to advance upward in my career path that I will be starting with Indiana Farm Bureau.  I look forward to getting married and starting a family.  My dream is to raise the next generation of Boilermaker Ag kids, looking to work hard and to discover their old gold and black dreams.
Advice for underclassman: Don’t let yourself get in your own way. There is always time to do what needs to be done.  What I took too long to figure out was that most of the learning I did was about myself, in the places I experienced, surrounded by the people that were placed in my life at just the right time.
Biggest takeaway from Purdue: Do not be afraid to say yes to the unexpected.​​​

Agricultural Economics, 403 West State Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907 USA, (765) 494-4191

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