We all have a different calling in life, and sometimes it takes longer than others to find it. What makes this whole process a little simpler is knowing your niche. The golden question is "What is MY niche?"
Coming from a small town where I knew so many people, was very involved, and was familiar with the way life "just was," Purdue was slightly terrifying to put it lightly. I have now completed a semester and a third, and learned one thing. Big places become smaller when you get involved.
When I moved here in August, my friends were scattered hours away across the state, my family nearly 180 miles away, and my girlfriend over 200 miles away. I WAS ALONE! Well, except there were something like 38,000 other undergrads at Purdue that were in a similar position. During welcome week, or Boiler Gold Rush as we call it, all of the colleges within the University held a meet and greet with some of the faculty and staff. At the end of the week, the Ag department held a carnival. All of these events served to make us feel like a part of the Purdue Ag Family. Soon following this, the College of Ag's Agricultural Council hosted an ice cream social, and invited all of the clubs from the college to set up a table and be able to be advertised to incoming and returning students. This is more or less where my college career began.
I have since become involved with Purdue Collegiate FFA, where I serve as community service chairman. Coming from a high school with a barely-active FFA, I have gotten to fully embrace what the Collegiate division of FFA has to offer. The opportunity to continue serving my community, school, and industry on a daily basis is something I truly enjoy. More than that, the relationships I have built with fellow members are simply awesome! Collegiate FFA is different from high school FFA in what we do, but we still work and live by the same principles.
Other than FFA, I got involved with Collegiate Farm Bureau, which at Purdue is a division of Indiana Farm Bureau, which is a part of the American Farm Bureau Federation, for those who are not familiar with the organization. Farm Bureau and Indiana Young Farmers have offered me opportunities to attend two conferences, one in Indianapolis, and the second I just returned from, in Virginia Beach. This has afforded me the opportunity to learn more about crops, people, policy, social media, networking, and many other topics. The people I have met and interacted with make an impact on my life every day.
I am also a member of Purdue Agricultural Council. As a member of Ag Council, I get the opportunity to again network with fellow students as well as faculty and staff of Purdue, working together for the common good of the students and college. My term with Ag Council just began in January, so I do not have as many experiences to share yet, compared to the others.
What I'm getting at is, when you find people and organizations that make you feel like you are welcomed, share common goals and beliefs, and truly build relationships with people, you take on a sense of belonging. In order to succeed and truly achieve happiness, you must find a niche where you can feel at home.
I am a first hand testament showing how a small town kid can make it in the big city. My recommendation is to always get involved and make connections! I wouldn't be on the path I'm headed down without the guidance and friendships I have made through this.
Attached are some photos from my time at Purdue so far!
Thanks for reading!
Feel free to contact me any time at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter at @ebenkamp2013.