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Senior thanks the generosity of others for giving her a “window to the world”

Senior is thankful for scholarships that provided an affordable way for her to attend Purdue

Born and raised on her family dairy farm in a rural town in northern Indiana, Aubrey Dague, a senior in horticultural production marketing and agribusiness, reflects on her life before Purdue—a time when she didn’t know if her dream of attending a four-year university would be possible financially.

Now as Dague plans to graduate, she doesn't shy away from sharing what has made her dreams possible. "It's truly been the generosity of others."

The pursuit of a dream

During her senior year of high school, Dague was unsure of her future or what might even be possible for her. "When it came to college, money was always a concern I had. I grew up on a fourth-generation dairy farm, and with wanting to further my education and receive a four-year degree I did not want money to be something my family had to worry about. My family always did their best to support us as we began exploring our endeavors, but my dad buying me a horse for 4-H was a much different expense than the thousands required for college. Watching my parents' efforts growing up, it became my goal to repay that to them and not take their hard work for granted."

Concerned over financial resources, Dague initially decided to attend a local community college to seek a two-year degree, but that all changed with just two weeks left in the application process at Purdue.

"I thought I was going to stay close to home, but I had a sense that I should just apply to Purdue,” Dague said. “My sister had gone to Purdue and I had always been notorious for following directly in my big sister's footsteps, although nervous about the financial aspects I applied."

While waiting to learn if she had been admitted, Dague started searching and applying for scholarship opportunities. By submitting these applications, Dague nearly covered the cost of her first year at Purdue.

"I was accepted to Purdue in 2020. I graduated from a high school with 60 kids and was now at a school with over 45,000. I was scared, but I was thankful for the opportunity."

Opportunities to find community

Over the years, Dague received several scholarships through the Purdue Promise and 21st century scholars' program along with several scholarships from her local community foundation and the College of Agriculture.

"I have been very lucky to not have to hold a full-time job while at college and with that I have been able to have some really amazing opportunities. I've been able to focus on my studies, friendships, and jump into the community here."

She believes these scholarships allowed her to get the true "college experience."  She has been actively engaged in Boiler Gold Rush (BGR) and  the Purdue RecWell through their intramural sports program.   

Intramural sports at Purdue University Dague stands in Mackey Arena with her parents after refereeing an intramural game.
BGR leaders pose together at Purdue University Dague with her BGR group.

"I have volunteered with these programs and through my experiences have learned about diversity and inclusion, leadership and program facilitation and adaptation. I have helped introduce more than 16,000 new domestic and international students to Purdue's campus and help engage them in the opportunities that come with this new step in their life through BGR."

Along with her involvement in extracurricular activities, Dague was also able to travel internationally on two study abroad trips during her time at Purdue. She traveled to Peru and Ireland. Dague explains that these opportunities helped her acclimate at Purdue and prepare for life after college.

"I have opened my mindset and grown as a person, and I have been able to experience things I didn't know I ever would. It might be dramatic to say, but experiencing life outside of my comfort zone for even a week has helped me to become more emphathetic and compassionate towards those who go above and beyond to attend Purdue. These scholarships have given me a window to the world I had never seen before and might not have been able to do without them."

Aubey Dague in Ireland Dague visited several historic sites while she explored Ireland including Kells Priory outside of Kilkenny on one of her study abroad trips.
Aubrey Dague in Peru Dague at Machu Picchu in Peru on a study abroad trip.
Advice for future Boilermakers

As Dague finishes her last year at Purdue, her younger brother is making plans to follow in his sisters' footsteps. Dague says he is experiencing many of the same emotions that she did around his finances for attending the university. Her advice for him is the same that she would give to any future student needing help.

"Don't be afraid to put yourself out there. The worst you can get is a no. We are often our worst enemy. Purdue has many wonderful opportunities to help make your college experience what you always dreamed it could be."

The road was not always easy, but Dague does not finish the conversation without thanking those who helped her through.

My scholarships have been a daily reminder that people believe in me. A scholarships earned is a form of recognition achieved where someone believed I deserved it and provided me with an opportunity to do more. I have used that as a motivation to achieve these last four years. Purdue has provided me with more opportunities than I could have imagined and foreced me to grow in a way I cound never have achieved without this journey.

- Aubrey Dague, senior in horticultural production marketing and agribusiness

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