sealPurdue Education and Careers Briefs

June 1999

Smiles are the dividends for Purdue economics students

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- An economics course at Purdue University aims to create compassionate future business leaders while helping about 75 at-risk children.

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Management students in Professor John Pomery's undergraduate course -- Learning, Culture and Community -- meet each week at three Indianapolis public housing projects to tutor Indianapolis Public School children in grades kindergarten through five, or just to spend time reading and talking together. Their involvement is part of "Project High Hopes," a collaboration between the Purdue School of Management, the Purdue Department of 4-H Youth and the Purdue Cooperative Extension Service office in Marion County.

High Hopes brings together Purdue students, community-based site coordinators and high school peer educators to help 20 to 25 elementary students at each of the three public housing sites on the south side of Indianapolis. The Purdue students prepare for their field experience by covering the coursework while they're making the 120-mile round trip between West Lafayette and Indianapolis.

"We have topical discussions in the van as we drive to and from our destination," Pomery says. "The topics range from the impact of labeling individuals to the students' reflections on a particular issue or experience at the site."

Pomery, who teaches business ethics, says involvement with the children has allowed his students to expand their view of the world.

"The experience moves students outside of thinking of things solely as economic issues," he says. "We hope that they learn to recognize potential where it may not be visible on the surface. That can be a very valuable tool for future managers, no matter what area of business they go into."

Pomery says the students also learn how the learning process is different for all individuals.

"Not everyone learns the same way," he says. "We all have different motivators and different life experiences that affect the way we learn. This project exposes the Purdue students to a world many have never seen before and gives them a better understanding of diversity within a community."

Organizers hope to add more tutoring sites next year by increasing the participation of Purdue students and adding students from other schools around the state.

CONTACT: Pomery, (765) 494-4515,

College degrees pay off for farmers

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- You get up at the crack of dawn, feed the livestock, check the markets, mend a fence, run to town for a tractor part, fix the tractor, check the weather report on DTN, work on the farm records. The work is never the same from day to day, and the payoff often is marginal -- if that. So why should a farmer bother getting a college degree?

"My college education is probably the best asset I've acquired," says Tom Hess of rural Vincennes, Ind. "It has allowed me to learn how to seek people out to help me pursue information, and to be familiar with what they're talking about when they answer my questions."

Hess, who earned a bachelor's degree in agricultural economics from Purdue University in 1990, says it also has helped him learn to seek alternative resources and to look at problems from different angles.

He says he believes that a higher level of education puts him on the same playing field as the suppliers and salespeople he meets when he buys the inputs for his 1,100-acre cash grain operation.

"As agriculture gets more technical, I have to be able to communicate and understand them," he says. "They're all out to make a buck, and they may not all be legitimate. I need to be informed and be able to gather information and weed out what I need to know."

Jay Hawley of Kirklin, Ind., a 1969 Purdue agricultural economics graduate, praises the communication and people skills he honed in college. The hog farmer also says his college experience exposed him to a lot of different people and resources, and it broadened his horizons.

Education didn't stop at graduation, though. His undergraduate experience has made him more receptive to continuing education seminars and workshops, and it has helped provoke thought and action.

Howard Doster, an agricultural economist and a "farmer's professor" at Purdue, says: "Experiencing classes and obtaining a college degree gives one an expanded perspective. Without that formal college experience, a person likely doesn't have that perspective. When surprises occur, a person with a rigorous college experience is more likely to look for opportunities in those surprises than be stymied or paralyzed by them."

CONTACTS: Doster, (765) 494-4250,; Hess, (812) 886-6983; Hawley, (765) 279-8956

Compiled by Sharon Bowker, (765) 494-2077;

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; e-mail,

Amit Jain of Glenrock, N.J., a Purdue junior who is majoring in management, tutors a group of elementary students from the Indianapolis Public Schools. He does the work as part of a Purdue class that meets once a week at three public housing sites in Indianapolis.
Color photo, electronic transmission, and Web and ftp download available. Photo ID: Pomery.hihopes

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