Students charting new path to college

By Lisa Schluttenhofer

Ethan Demerly

Photo by Lisa Schluttenhofer
Ethan Demerly, a sophomore agricultural economics major from West Lafayette, Ind., participates in the Pathway to Purdue program, which allows students to take classes at Ivy Tech Community College while participating in campus life at Purdue.
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Purdue students are getting the experience of a four-year university while saving money thanks to a program that partners Ivy Tech Community College with Purdue's College of Agriculture.

Kayla Mosson, a sophomore agricultural education major from Frankfort, Ind., is earning an associate degree from Ivy Tech. When she applied to Purdue, she said her SAT scores were a little low, but Mosson was accepted into Pathway to Purdue. The program allows students to take core entry-level classes at the community college while living on Purdue's campus and working toward a bachelor's degree at Purdue.

"It sounded like exactly what I wanted to do anyway - to get some of the basic courses out of the way - so I applied," she said. "Sometimes people go to Ivy Tech to take classes while at Purdue, so this actually saved some time."

Being able to participate in the campus life experience drew Mosson to Purdue. She is a member of the Indiana Association of Agricultural Educators and other clubs.

Participating in Purdue activities was also attractive to Ethan Demerly, a sophomore agricultural economics major from West Lafayette, Ind. He's an active member in Purdue's Agribusiness Club and said he plans to join a campus fraternity next year.

"As I'm coming to the end of my associate degree and time at Ivy Tech, I'm looking forward to getting more involved at Purdue," he said.

The Purdue connection also allows students like Demerly and Mosson to build connections with their classmates and departments. Mosson works with Purdue professors doing research - something she wouldn't be able to do if she just attended Ivy Tech. She also was able to do some work for Purdue's Department of Youth Development and Agricultural Education. She helped develop a website that provides resources for science teachers.

Affordability was a big reason Mosson was attracted to the Pathway program. Full-time enrollment at Ivy Tech is about one-third of Purdue's cost. Her goal is to graduate from Purdue without any debt.

For Demerly, the program also is a path to a family tradition.

"I've had cousins and other family who have attended here," Demerly said. "I knew I wanted to get a Purdue degree and just stumbled across the program on the Internet when I was looking at majors."

Mosson was also attracted to Purdue Agriculture. In high school, she showed livestock and was a member of FFA, a national agriculture organization that emphasizes leadership. Those experiences inspired her to become an agriculture teacher.

"When I was taking ag classes and an active member of FFA, I knew that I wanted to share that passion with others," she said.

Mosson and Demerly said the program is not without its challenges. Like any students, they have to balance their time, but they also have to plan for longer commutes to class than the average student's walk. Demerly said the physical distance between Purdue and the Ivy Tech-Lafayette campus requires careful planning.

"It was a little difficult to schedule classes and travel," he said. "During my first year, I discovered that I couldn't possibly make it on time for one of my classes, so I just had to drop it."

"But just like any successful college student, I always have to keep up with my studies."

John Graveel, an agronomy professor and assistant dean, said that nearly 40 students are part of the Pathway to Purdue program, which is in its second year.

"Don't think you can't go to Purdue," Demerly said. "Even if you are nervous about it or aren't sure about going to college, these programs are out there to give you options."

It's not just a job, it's an opportunity

By Lisa Schluttenhofer

In addition to being a student at Purdue University and Ivy Tech, Ethan Demerly, a sophomore agricultural economics major from West Lafayette, Ind., has a Purdue job.

Demerly works about 20 hours a week at the Purdue Animal Science Research and Education Center. The center is a working farm off-campus that allows students to get hands-on experience and gives professors a place to perform research experiments. Demerly helps in the farm shop, sheep unit and feed mill.

It's a busy schedule, but the experience will help him manage his time and be a better employee, he said. "I'm getting a taste of all the different areas of business," Demerly said. "My dream job right out of school would be to work for John Deere, and I hope to become a business manager."