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Destination Career: Alumna’s sweet career blends creativity and science

Flavorful smells wafted into the streets of downtown Indianapolis as Sherdexia Yarde walked behind the counter at SoChatti. As she set up the sustainable chocolate dipping stations her customers love, Yarde shared how important freshness and shelf life are to her work.

“We’re really big on bridging the gap between food freshness, like making foods taste like they were just picked or sliced, but also shelf stability and making sure we’re not adding anything,” Yarde explained.

Yarde earned a bachelor’s degree in sales and marketing from Purdue Agriculture in 2021 and said she wanted to find balance between her passion for sustainable agriculture and interest in sales. That led her to a career with SoChatti, an industrial food technology company that specializes in chocolate.

“Basically, [my boss] is a mad scientist using everything that he’s ever learned to make future food technology,” Yarde said. “You can’t create the food of tomorrow with the technology of today.”

Sherdexia Yarde working with chocolate Sherdexia Yarde loves her work with SoChatti, because it allows her to balance her passion for sustainable agriculture with her interest in sales. Yarde earned a bachelor’s degree in sales and marketing in 2021. Photo provided by Shaun Hughes, SoChatti marketing operator.

SoChatti was an attractive option when Yarde was searching for a job because of its sustainable, dairy-free, gluten-free, and even allergen-free tasting options. Little did she know, that was just the appetizing start.

“I know the science is here, and I get to keep my creativity alive every time I come up with something new,” Yarde said. “I’m here for a reason.”

As an assistant store manager, Yarde sets up the tasting rooms and sells people other experiences such as mixing their own chocolate candies; taking wine classes; or participating in other unique, sustainable, and fresh tastings. She even implements her own ideas, like a chocolate fondue experience.

“It’s like a fondue station but with our chocolate, and it’s super funny that people are really into it, because I really just came up with the idea out of nowhere,” Yarde said. “The people do what they want, and they cover everything in chocolate.”

Yarde said she has a deep appreciation for her company’s commitment to sustainability. For SoChatti, that means preserving the shelf-life sustainably and generating less waste while using technology to bridge the gap between food freshness and consumers.

“My favorite thing about it is that we’re doing good things for the world,” Yarde said.

Before coming to SoChatti, Yarde wanted to find a balance between creativity and science at Purdue. She explored several majors including creative studies like interior design, and science-heavy majors like planetary science. However, it was not until she discovered agriculture that she found middle ground.

Now, she carries that balance through her work. Because of her business background, she knows there is research and development behind the scenes of every product and experience. Her coworkers share her passion for this balance as they pursue solutions for food technology. They serve as incredible resources for how to reduce food waste, implement market research findings, and create the food of tomorrow.

“I have made a second family, which is good because I have to see them all the time!” Yarde joked.

Although it was a disquieting process as Yarde surfed through majors and worked to find her place in the agricultural industry, she knows her education served her well.

“I feel like my major is in use here,” she reflected. “I feel like I have so many new ways to apply what I learned at Purdue.”

Yarde never thought that agriculture would be the place where she found a home because her background did not reflect the traditional agriculture student. But, then again, neither does her job.

“Everyone’s niche is out there; you just have to find it,” Yarde said.

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Grace Hasler is a student writer majoring in agricultural communication in Agricultural Sciences Education and Communication

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