Profile: Pathway Pioneer

By Nancy Alexander

Hazel Wetzstein
Katie Jones was one of the first students to graduate from Pathway to Purdue, a co-enrollment program between the College of Agriculture and Ivy Tech Community College-Lafayette.

New Purdue Agriculture alumna Katie Jones grew up on a farm near Battle Ground, Indiana. As a 10-year 4-H member, Jones showed Southdown sheep throughout the Midwest and developed an interest in animal science. In keeping with her rural upbringing, the elementary and middle schools she attended were small, and she struggled at first to adapt to her much larger high school in nearby West Lafayette.

Based on that experience, "I had the idea that college might be overwhelming," she says. "I was looking for something to help me transition into college." So although she had been admitted directly to Purdue, four years ago Jones chose an alternative—and at that point untested—route to the university. This May she was among the first three graduates of a growing program called Pathway to Purdue.

Pathway is a partnership between the College of Agriculture and Ivy Tech Community College-Lafayette that allows Ivy Tech students to co-enroll at Purdue in preparation for an undergraduate agriculture degree. Students who complete the requirements for an associate degree in agriculture at Ivy Tech, meet grade criteria and complete four Purdue agriculture courses on the West Lafayette campus are guaranteed admission into Purdue's College of Agriculture.

Although Jones didn't need any remedial coursework, other Pathway students can strengthen their mathematics and science skills at Ivy Tech to prepare for Purdue's rigorous courses in biology, chemistry, calculus and statistics.

"I took most of my general education classes at Ivy Tech," Jones says. "The smaller class size for introductory classes was beneficial, and I felt like I was trained how to study for my more difficult Purdue classes. At Purdue, the professors were more specialized and more in-depth."

Unlike transfer programs, co-enrollment allows students to immediately become part of the Purdue community, with access to student housing, libraries, recreational facilities, computer labs, athletic events and, most important to Jones, student organizations.

Hazel Wetzstein
Pathway students are Purdue students in every way. Jones followed family tradition and joined the Purdue "All-American" Marching Band.

She wanted to march in the footsteps of her father and sister as a Purdue band member, and found a niche there early on. "I was able to go to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade my freshman year, and I felt like I was representing Ivy Tech and Purdue in New York," the baritone player says. Over spring break as a junior, Jones traveled with the band to Dublin, Ireland, to march in that city's St. Patrick's Day Parade. She also was active for four years in the service fraternity Kappa Kappa Psi and with the Reamer Club, caretakers of the Boilermaker Special.

Jones, who majored in animal sciences with a concentration in animal agribusiness, hopes someday to work in agribusiness, perhaps in a marketing-related field like event or conference planning. For now, as assistant to Program Chair Jamille Palacios at Ivy Tech, Jones helps current Pathway students work through scheduling issues and shares her own experiences with them.

"As a student you have to work hard to stay in the Pathway program so that you can ultimately be accepted into Purdue," she says. "I really try to emphasize that you get two great colleges with lots of different opportunities."