Michigan Native Reflects on BoilerMaker Student Experience    

Miriam Cook  

Hometown : Pewamo, MI  

Major & Concentration : Agriculture Economics, Applied Ag Economics     

Minors or Certificates: Animal Science, Public Policy  

Why did you come to Purdue : I knew I always wanted to get out of state for college and experience agriculture in other parts of the country. When I toured Purdue I fell in love with the family culture and the connectivity of campus, not to mention the large investment industry has made in the college of agriculture. Additionally one of my biggest mentors in life, Ken Casebere, is a Purdue alumni and a small part of me has always wanted to be like him, so coming to Purdue gave me that connecting piece.   

Favorite Purdue tradition :  Sunday Night Dinners and Wednesday Night Masses at St. Thomas  

Top three influences at Purdue  

  1. Study Abroad   
  2. Agriculture Future of America (AFA)   
  3. Ken Casebere   

Top five memories of your time at Purdue  

  • Covid – Unpopular opinion I know but because of Covid I was able to do and experience more things than ever would have been possible without Covid. From the beginning being sent home gave me the chance to reinvest in my family and our farm, it was those first couple of months that I became a master fence builder on the farm, and I even still had an internship that allowed me to travel to many different farms across the US. Then when the fall came the hybrid courses allowed me the flexibility to take up multiple jobs and with that I got to experience what it was like to work on a boar stud and scored the best job ever working at Pletch Equestrian. I learned so much about the world and those around me during those months/years. Due to Covid I was able to learn and do more than I ever could have imagined possible during college, so definitely makes the saying “when life hands you lemons, make lemonade,” so very true.    
  • While studying abroad it was awesome to have another friend from Purdue also studying abroad but in Ireland. Being able to meet up with Sarah Tucker in Portugal and explore the country was super awesome to do together while we were across the ocean! It helped make the large world seem a bit smaller in those couple of days spend exploring together.   
  • Some of my most treasured memories come from working an off campus job while being a student at Purdue. It was the chance to work at Pletch Equestrian that gave me lifelong friends and numerous memories. Having that amazing barn family with all the people and the horses made my time at Purdue that much sweeter. I can remember many days sitting in the barn aisle enjoying the sunshine talking with the gals enjoying the company of the horses, dogs, and French Fry.   
  • Being apart of Sigma Alpha gave me a family of sisters that I wouldn’t trade for the world. The numerous family dinners together out to eat were always my favorite, I can remember taking the majority to Golden Corral one evening, around 8 of us lovely ladies sitting around talking all at once and it filled my heart with how happy it made me to see the bond we have all formed, being from all over yet able to have this great love of sisterhood.   
  • While there was numerous car drives and late night adventures had with many friends across Indiana. I will always love and cherish the farm visits I got to go on freshman year with Steve, the dairy judging coach. He took me in like I was one of his own kids and helped coach me even when I was still competing for Michigan. I am blessed to have gotten to travel with Steve, even if just for a short time and will forever hold that time together close to my heart.  

Places you have been as a Purdue student   1

  • Wageningen, Netherlands on a study abroad – went to Denmark, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, France, Belgium, and Portugal
  • Peru  
  • Kansas City, Kansas
  • Madison, WI
  • Lansing, MI
  • New York
  • Washington, DC
  • Ames, IA
  • Harrisburg, PA
  • Lancaster, PA
  • Louisville, KY
  • Sioux Falls, SD
  • Columbus, OH  

Favorite club/organization : Sigma Alpha  

Favorite Student-led event/initiative : Dairy Judging Invitational, this is an event that one, gives club members without dairy experience up-close, hands-on experience. It is during the training sessions that I see what I took for granted growing up really makes an impact on others. To see people's faces, light up to be able to lead a cow for the first time is insanely heartwarming. On top of that putting on an event for the youth of Indiana is super cool to give the kids a chance at a low pressure, fun experience for all involved.  


Favorite Purdue event : Springfest, anything agriculture related has my heart. This event is all about educating the general public and as a ag advocate I love it. I have never had such enlightening conversations and cool connections come out of an event. Through events like this I have been able to connect with non-agriculture minded folks and further their learning through taking them on farm tours and debunking the myths they had previously had.   

Favorite Social Activity: Coming from an agriculture background I loved being able to tour local farming operations when I had chance, it truly helped me diversify my farming knowledge. Moreover, with my farm work ethic I spent a significant amount of time working on different farms   

Favorite place to study : St. Thomas Basement  

Favorite spot-on campus : The Purdue Dairy Farm or Creighton  


Favorite thing about CoA : Coming from out of state I felt so alone at first but that was short lived, it quickly became like a second family to me, whether it was fellow classmates or the faculty. Everyone was so insanely welcoming to this small-town Michigan girl and turns out I wasn’t much different than small town Indiana. Granted Indiana knows how to do a state fair right and a 4-H queens contest I don’t think any other state can touch, honestly would call Indiana home thanks to Purdue and the connections it has given me.   

Favorite thing about your major : With my major it is insanely flexible to fit all my different desires. I have been able to take fun animal science courses, interesting policy courses and extra ones that are off the wall for my own personal gain, like private pilot license training. Purdue has so much to offer and being in agriculture economics I can take a taste of it all while still focusing on numbers and business.   


Favorite class : AGEC 296, While the class looked much different when I took it with Ryan Musselman, it gave me my best friends and exposed me to all the agriculture industry that Indiana has to offer and truly opened my eyes. To this day I still use the experiences I had and the knowledge I gained in conversations and my life.   

Favorite professor : Does favorite advisor/faculty count instead because I would have to say Ms. Jo Thomas!  

Coolest project : In sophomore seminar we were given an assignment to interview an alumnus in a field we were interested in pursuing for a career. I had LeeAnn pair me with a random Purdue alumnus, which happened to be Shelby Myer (Swain). At the time it was super cool, she was working in ag policy and making the move to DC and I was thrilled to meet her. Fast forward to that summer after sophomore year I go the chance to work with her again during my internship with Michigan Farm Bureau and have since run into her a few more times at events. It was that project that showed me how small the agriculture world can be but also taught me how valuable small connections like that can be, from a class project to job interactions you never know what doors open to what.    

Three biggest accomplishments  

  • Being able to own, manage, and grow my own herd of roughly 30 to 40 head of dairy cattle back at our home farm in Michigan I am super proud of the genetics there.   


  • Studying abroad at Wageningen University during the pandemic and passing the rigorous courses there.   
  • Winning High Individual at the National FFA Dairy Judging Contest in 2019, especially proud to have won the Brown Swiss breed thanks to Steve’s teachings.   

Things on your resume not listed above  


  • I am the Chaplain of Sigma Alpha  
  • During college I worked part-time at a horse barn, Pletch Equestrian and Milk Test for ISDA  
  • I served as the Michigan Junior Holstein Association Vice-President for many years as well as the National Holstein Association Youth Advisory Council  
  • I have had three internships with: STgenetics, Michigan Farm Bureau, and PEAK Genetics (URUS)  


Where do you want to end up : I want to end up in a role where I can give back to the industry that has given so much to me. I think about the type of legacy I want to leave, thus the life I want to live. When thinking about this combination I know that I want to leave a legacy worth remembering, live a life where I am someone worth knowing, not well known, all while not just letting life happen to me but rather making my life happen  

Advice for underclassman : “Do not let your classes get in the way of your education.” Some of the best and worst advice my older sister gave me as I left to go to college. It has guided me in taking every opportunity given and always saying yes to the next adventure. Live your life with no regrets and take four years to finish a degree because those are four years of freedom you can never get back to do whatever you want.   


Biggest takeaway from Purdue : No growth happens in the comfort zone, and it only takes 5 seconds of courage to open up a world of possibilities. With that mentality going to an out-of-state college opened my eyes to so many new and crazy adventures. It is because of Purdue I am who I am today and I am grateful to have taken the leap and became a Boilermaker. Purdue is so flexible it allows one to explore any subject and still find their passion while offering an abundance of learning experiences outside of the college of agriculture it gives one a wide breath of an education beyond the lecture hall.