Henry County

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4-H Alumni Spotlight

October 10, 2017
Joffrey Niessen

"When I look back on the past year I’ve spent at Purdue, I realize how many of the experiences that I’ve had that I wouldn’t have been able to experience or been as prepared for had it not been for Henry County 4-H! This past year has been a whirlwind of opportunities and adventures up here in West Lafayette. I am currently a sophomore in the College of Agriculture at Purdue University studying Biochemistry with a Pre-Med concentration with minors in Biology and Sociology. Through 4-H I gained a multitude of various skills, one of the most important being communication skills. Overall this is due to my participation my penultimate summer of 4-H as a Henry County 4-H Fair Ambassador. Having this opportunity was a gigantic blessing for me and also helped me to network with people from across not only the county but also Indiana. As an ambassador, one of the many tasks is simply getting to know the various participants of the county fair and their families. Getting to communicate with people and understand the various backgrounds that we all come from gave me a great sense of diversity and inclusion that I went on to use as a Team Leader this past year for Boiler Gold Rush.

Boiler Gold Rush (BGR) is Purdue University’s week-long student orientation program that takes place the week before classes start in the fall. All new students at Purdue have the opportunity to participate in BGR and in doing so they are paired with about 18 other new students and one team leader. That team leader is their mentor and guide for the week of and helps them sort out their transition process at Purdue! This past year I was charged with leading 18 incoming freshmen around campus for the week and as a team together we went to different sessions on topics ranging from inclusion and diversity to academic success and time management. I also taught them about the different traditions and resources that they have access to as Purdue students! This was an eye-opening opportunity that taught me tremendous amounts about the different backgrounds that people come from and also helped me to see Purdue as a uniting factor that everyone could always relate back to when they were in a time of need.

Another opportunity that I credit almost wholly to my experiences as an Ambassador has been my time as an Admissions Representative for Purdue University’s Office of Admissions. Throughout this role, I have had the opportunity and responsibility of sharing my love for Purdue University with prospective students and their families. My responsibilities include giving presentations to groups ranging from 1-100 people about Purdue, meeting with families individually to answer questions about the application process and Purdue in general, and also answering phone calls and e-mails from perspective families. For this experience in particular, I worked with the Office of Admissions previously as a Purdue Ambassador and many of the duties and skills that I employed during my time as a Henry County 4-H Ambassador were used in my position as a Purdue Ambassador and an Admissions Representative.

Besides the opportunities I’ve mentioned here, I am also a member of the American Medical Student Association, the American Chemical Society, a professional fraternity for Chemistry, a social fraternity, Purdue University Dance Marathon, an Alzheimer’s research lab, and the Lilly Scholars Network. I look back at many of these organizations and can honestly say that the skills I use in this wide range of organizations were developed during my time in Henry County 4-H and especially during my time as a Henry County 4-H Fair Ambassador. Currently I am preparing for a summer abroad in Italy for a Pre-Med fellowship and am still planning on going to medical school once my four years here at Purdue are over to be a Cardiologist. I cannot wait for the future and am extremely excited to see how I can utilize my experiences as a Fair Ambassador in the future! As always, Boiler Up, Hammer Down, and Hail Purdue!"

*Written by Joffrey Niessen, September 2017

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