WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Erin Whittaker hopes to be a world
traveler, and her education at Purdue University is helping lay the foundation
for that dream.
Whittaker, a junior from West Lafayette in quantitative
agricultural economics and French, has held three internships that have taken
her across the country and the world, from Capitol Hill to France.
“It’s been amazing. It’s been more than I could ask for,”
she said. “I started out with all these different goals when I was a freshman. I
ended up reaching those goals that I never thought I would.
“One of my top goals coming in was to be involved with
Mortar Board, and I got into it two weeks ago. Also, I wanted to be an ag
ambassador because an ag ambassador helped me choose Purdue. I ended up doing
that, as well.”
Her determination and involvement in the College of
Agriculture earned Whittaker the title of Top Junior in Ag.
Whittaker has an extensive list of activities, including
involvement in the Purdue Foundation Student Board, Agricultural Council, Ag
Ambassador program, College of Agriculture Leadership Certificate program and
After her freshman year, she held an internship through a
study-abroad program, and, she completed an internship after her sophomore year
with the Committee on Agriculture in Washington, D.C.
“The College of Agriculture does an eight-week program with
a lot of different international schools,” she said. “You study wine and
viticulture for four weeks, and then you have an internship for four weeks on a
“I interned and lived with a French family that ran their
own vineyard. My French father would show me around, and I did everything he did
— a lot of packaging and planting.”
Her time in D.C. was spent researching and working on the
Egg Products Inspection Act Amendments of 2012. She wrote memos and worked on
hearings while working for Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan.
“The farm bill was actually being passed through Senate at
the point, and I was there when it passed, so that was really exciting,” she
recalled. “So while I was there, it was all about the different amendments that
were being added on.”
This summer, Whittaker will travel to Missouri to be an
intern with Archer Daniels Midland. She will work as a commodity merchandizing
intern, helping customers decide how many bushels to buy or sell depending on
Her advice for incoming students at Purdue is to try
“Get involved and put yourself in as many uncomfortable
situations as you can,” she said.
“I always work through those situations and end up growing a
lot through each of those experiences.
“I ran for student body vice president, and that was really
uncomfortable for me at the beginning. But just going through that entire
process, I grew exponentially. Even if you don’t succeed, you build a lot of
After earning her Purdue degree, Whittaker would like to
eventually study at Georgetown University. She is interested in foreign affairs
and trade policy.