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Student Profile: Shelby Whitaker

Major Defined by Ability to Pursue Many Interests, Options 

By Jacob Kessens

“I really like the diversity and variety of content that the degree offers. Being in agricultural communication doesn’t mean that I am held to one career or only one area of interest; it gives me the opportunity to choose my own path based off my many different interests,” explained Shelby Whitaker, a freshman agricultural communication major from Valparaiso, Indiana.

Being able to pursue her many different interests is one reason why Whitaker decided to major in agricultural communication . . . and agricultural sales and marketing . . . and minor in art and design studio. She is curious about learning a lot of different things related to agriculture.

Photo of Shelby Whitaker Shelby Whitaker says that one of the most attractive things about the agricultural communication major is that it allows her to pursue many interests and possibilities. Photo by Amber Cripps

Whitaker recognized all the possibilities that AgCom offered even before she started at Purdue. When she was still in high school, she visited Purdue and the Department of Agricultural Sciences Education and Communication (ASEC), the home of Purdue Agricultural Communication. Kevin Leigh Smith, an advisor and continuing lecturer, met with Whitaker and went through all the different aspects of the major. Learning more about the possibilities in the major got Whitaker excited.

“The fact that there are so many different career options that can stem from one major made me realize that this was the major for me,” she said.

Although she is only a freshman, Whitaker said she has seen how the major will set her up for future success. She is interested in marketing and social media and hopes to pursue a career in it after graduation. So, she is taking a course in publication design offered by Mark Tucker, professor of agricultural communication.

“It has been a really great class to learn the different design software that you would use in a future career,” Whitaker said.

Whitaker said that the ASEC faculty and staff are always showing her more options, even when she isn’t expecting it. This happened with Mark Russell, professor and head of the ASEC department. Whitaker said that Russell took the time to meet with her and other students to help them with career development. That involved helping Whitaker prepare her resume for her first career fair. And at that fair, Whitaker realized how many kinds of employers were looking for agricultural communication students.

“Companies know that majoring in AgCom means you’re being exposed to a wide variety of information that makes you a well-rounded individual and employee, which is an asset to any company,” Whitaker explained.

Although she has only been at Purdue for a short time, she said has already found what she is passionate about and the AgCom major is exposing her to a wide range of information and skills that she needs to pursue these passions.

“I am excited for what my future holds here at Purdue,” she said. “I have already learned so much during my time here and I can’t wait to keep exploring my interests through this major.”

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