Destination Career is a series profiling recent Purdue Agriculture graduates.
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Fellowship encourages graduates to pursue entrepreneurship

By Evan Rich

Jackson Troxel

Photo by Evan Rich

​Jackson Troxel, who earned a bachelor's degree from Purdue in agricultural economics in 2013, is part of a fellowship program that encourages recent undergraduates to keep their talents in Indiana by connecting them with entrepreneurial companies. ​Full-size image (1943 KB)


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​Like many young professionals, Jackson Troxel texts, tags and tweets on his smartphone throughout the day. But chances are, Troxel is one of a select few Purdue graduates who have the staff of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence in his recent call list.

​That's because Troxel, who earned a bachelor's degree from Purdue in agricultural economics in 2013, is involved in a program for young professionals called the Orr Fellowship. The two-year program encourages recent undergraduates to keep their talents in Indiana by connecting them with entrepreneurial companies. Troxel's fellowship came with a job at Slane Capital, where he collects and analyzes information from the food retail sector. It also involves developing networking and outreach events with leaders throughout the state, including Gov. Pence.

​"Part of the reason I enjoy the Orr Fellowship is because I'm networking with such an extremely high caliber of achievement and because it's a great jumpstart to working in Indiana," Troxel said.

​Slane Capital, like the other companies involved in the Orr Fellowship, is an Indiana startup. By working at startups, Troxel and the other Orr Fellows receive mentorship in entrepreneurship they might not get at other companies.

​"It's not easy to begin life in the working world," he said. "So having people there to offset that transition (those talented individuals) makes a difference."

​For Troxel, his new career is more than just a paycheck.

​"Money is not what it's about at this point in my career — opportunity and learning come before that," he said. "It's important for me to surround myself with a network of motivated, driven leaders."

​Troxel's mother, LuAnn Troxel, agreed that the Orr Fellowship was a great fit for her son.

​"Jackson is really good at pushing himself," she said. "As a parent, I'm happy to see my son find opportunities that aren't so far from home."

​More Indiana business leaders are recognizing the Orr Fellowship and that recognition is opening doors for students, Troxel said. The familiarity of the fellowship is part of the reason Troxel is able to connect with other recognizable figures throughout the state, like the meeting he organized with Gov. Pence.

​Pushing himself is one reason why Troxel chose to be an Orr Fellow rather than accept job offers from other companies more closely related to his major. He thought the Orr Fellowship would help him learn the ins and outs of small business.

​"I thought it would challenge me the most," he said.

​It's probably no surprise Troxel sought a challenge. In college he was a constant multi-tasker and credits those experiences at Purdue for building his skills and relationships. His experiences also convinced him that it's vital to keep some of the best graduates in Indiana.

​"You've got to have talented people for new ideas and innovation," he said. "I'm here because I love Indiana, because it's the state where I grew up and I want to see it succeed." ​

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