Erin Whittaker enjoys reading, traveling and spending time with friends in coffee shops when she isn’t busy doing schoolwork or serving as a leader in student organizations. Her determination and involvement in the College of Agriculture earned Whittaker the title of Top Junior in Ag.
Erin Whittaker enjoys reading, traveling and spending time with friends in coffee shops when she isn’t busy doing schoolwork or serving as a leader in student organizations. Her determination and involvement in the College of Agriculture earned Whittaker the title of Top Junior in Ag.

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 student government.

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 vineyard.

“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 the market.

Her advice for incoming students at Purdue is to try something new.

“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 depth.”

After earning her Purdue degree, Whittaker would like to eventually study at Georgetown University. She is interested in foreign affairs and trade policy.