Concepts Re-learned

Today, we end our senior blog series with this fun post from Sarah Hann.  Enjoy her fun stories and creative writing.

In four years of college, I’ve had four different roommates. I’m not a horrible roommate, honest, it just happened to work out that way. This year, roommate #4 is different from the previous three; she is an international transfer student from China. Since this is her first time in America, I’ve been presented with many challenges and also moments of learning about communication. Here are a few things I’ve learned or re-learned about communicating and thought were worth sharing.

  • Sometimes you don’t need words The first Sunday as roommates, we went to breakfast here on campus. My roomie had fruit and was trying to explain that it was sour, but she didn’t know the word ‘sour’. However, sometimes facial expressions take over and I knew the message was, “wow, this is really sour!” This also has been true in other instances where she didn’t know the word, but the fact she was laughing or other facial expressions and body language told me what she was saying.
  • Write it clearly My roommate seems better at reading English, so I leave her a lot of notes, from introducing things I think we should talk about later to saying I will be at a football game most of the night, don’t worry about me. Whenever I leave her a note, I always put it in my best handwriting because I never know how nice or sloppy of English she’s grown used to reading. I figure it’s the least I can do to be nice and make sure my message gets across.
  • Think before you talk With my friends, I can be a sarcastic, quick talking person who uses the occasional crazy vocabulary word (supernumerary, anyone?). With someone who is still learning the language, that’s not the best kind of speaker to be unless you want to explain every other word and repeat yourself often. I do try to throw in appropriate slang or terms Americans use so she gets the sense of what is appropriate and common “American-isms” if you will. But, I think with anyone you should always think before you talk to keep it audience-appropriate and easy to follow among other things.

While I won’t be receiving any international communication credit for this living arrangement, I think so far this experience has taught and re-taught me some of the basic concepts of communication that we tend to overlook when communicating amongst our friends or co-workers. I think these are simple things we should all keep in mind when we communicate with others. Body language is a key part of communication, while good handwriting and thinking before speaking is common courtesy and just plain smart. Sometimes, the communication concepts we should remember to practice are the little ones.

Sarah is a senior studying agricultural communication with a minor in history. She isn’t quite sure what she would like to do after graduation, but ideally the job is located in Ohio or Indiana and she gets along with more than half of her co-workers. 🙂


It’s a simple case of greed

Many professional athletes can easily be overcome by greed. This greed ultimately affects the sport and the industry as a whole. Over the past year, greed has been widespread across many industries. Starting with the NFL, players and owners couldn’t come to an agreement on salaries. This standoff almost postponed the season, and now the same situation is taking place with the NBA.

Agriculture-related industries and professionals are not immune to greed. In the equine industry, greed is ruining some of the industry’s greatest athletes. Recently, I attended the All-American Quarter Horse Congress, in Columbus, Ohio and had the opportunity to watch the Masters class as well as many of the 2- and 3-year-old futurity/stakes classes. These classes are the youngest horses being shown, they are being pushed the hardest to perform, and the winners are taking home more money than any of the other classes. The Equine Chronicle Congress Masters Western Pleasure winner receives $100,000 in cash along with many other prizes, and the Equine Chronicle Congress Masters Hunter Under Saddle winner receives $50,000 in cash as well as other prizes. On the other hand, the winner of the Markel Senior Western Pleasure Maturity won approximately $4,300.

Ultimately, this disparity is ruining the young horses and preventing them from showing past their futurity ages. Pushing the young horses to work too hard pushes many of them beyond their limits both mentally and physically. The end result is broken-down horses that have lifelong injuries or are mentally so burned out that they won’t perform. If you follow the horses that have won as 2- and 3-year-olds, many of them are turned to the breeding shed at the age of 4 or 5.

In the equine industry, I believe the problem lies within the system that is promoting these animals. It is not one organization but all organizations as a whole. Whether you are at a Quarter Horse show, a Paint Horse show or a thoroughbred race, you see the same thing. The classes that are geared toward the 2- and 3-year-old horses have the most money added for the winners.

The people who compete in these classes often push the horses too hard and too fast, just for a chance to win the title and awards that come with a first prize. It’s a simple case of greed. Instead of putting the animals first, many trainers and owners are consumed by the glory.

In too many cases, greed can take away from the original purpose of the sport, it is important to keep perspective and not to get caught up in greed.

Mallory Martin (left) will graduate this weekend with a degree in agricultural communication.

Two many students incorrectly using they’re words!

I know I’m not the only one bothered by this not-so-infrequent occurrence.  In case I didn’t make it obvious enough already, I’m specifically talking about the incorrect usage of the words to/two/too and their/there/they’re.

If I recall correctly, I was first educated in the differences between these apparently “perplexing” trios in elementary school, though I don’t quite remember exactly what year.  Ever since, I have never once failed to recall how to distinguish the differences between these threesomes.  All writing experience aside, knowing when to use which has always been second nature to me.

This brings me to my main point: How do college-educated Purdue students STILL not know how to use basic English?  I have encountered more instances of the misuse of these words than I care to count.  And I’m left wondering how these kids are still making these easily avoidable mistakes.

First, how do students get away with this, especially at such a prominent university?  Second, has no one told them any different by now?  And finally, how is it they can’t seem to remember the differences between these six simple words?  Haven’t we all written enough by now to understand these variances?  Heck, even MICROSOFT WORD lets you know when you’re wrong!

I cringe when I see the improper use of these trios and it puzzles me that most professors I’ve encountered never seem to do a thing about it.  Is this because they’re not sure what they can do or because some students seem to not care?  Either way, there is nothing more unprofessional than using to/two/too or their/there/they’re in the wrong context, in my opinion.

So, are students just that lazy that they don’t want to put forth the effort to write correctly?  This is what I want to know.  Because I find it extremely difficult to believe that so many Purdue students actually don’t know the differences between these words, and if they truly don’t know, well…then…I might as well go ahead and lose faith in my generation now (metaphorically speaking, that is).

The misuse of these triads is disturbing to me as it indicates that students don’t care a whole lot about how they are viewed, what they are saying or about being professional.  It’s more than just bad grammar, its laziness.

I suggest that professors re-teach this concept to students in writing intensive courses and take off points every time they incorrectly use these words.  Maybe students won’t be so lazy if their grades are influenced by it.

We are all communicators and obviously all know how to do so effectively.  But, that doesn’t mean the rest of the world (as in Purdue) can just reject learning how to correctly use the English language.  Communication is, after all, the basis of all human interaction.  Professors should be focusing on perfecting the most basic grammar mistakes before they begin teaching students linear algebra and organic chemistry, in my opinion.

Holly Keehn is Senior in Ag Comm with a minor in Forensic Science.

Crossing State Street

Today I feel that Purdue University is widely known for its three outstanding programs of engineering, professional flight and agriculture.

Sure, though agriculture is still included as one of those three, it is still somehow left on the backburner.

In 1862 the Morrill Act, also known as the Land Grant Act of 1862, was signed by then president Abraham Lincoln. This act allotted 17.4 million acres to be sold for the purpose of financing colleges in the United States that would primarily focus on the teaching of agriculture and mechanics.

Purdue University was one of those land grant colleges.

So if Purdue was established for the original intention of being a college with a focus in mechanical arts and agriculture, how is it that students give less credit to the College of Agriculture and its students today?

While there has been no study conducted on such attitude, I can say that such does in fact exist through my own experiences.

One of the contributing factors to this is an argument that has remained constant over the years. It is the imaginary rivalry between students over “who has the harder/more worthwhile major”, a rivalry more irritating than anything I know.

You will have engineering students accusing liberal arts students of knowing nothing about critical thinking while aviation students argue that their work is more than just a hobby and so on. The list of complaints and bickering between students differing in coursework goes on and on. However, at the end of the day, none can argue with a student in agriculture.


Because they simply have no idea what it is that we do.

The subtle disregard for the College of Agriculture and its students does not stem from actual disdain or question of credibility, but a lack of information passed and received.

For some reason or another, students (a portion at least) identify the College of Agriculture with the maintenance of farmland or livestock as major areas of study. A stereotype of rural agriculture being the background of agriculture students also follows. All of this is then also assumed to not require a rigorous curriculum because of its simple roots.

I myself am in the College of Agriculture. I do not come from a farming background. In addition, I have no desire to maintain farmland or produce vast amounts of livestock. In fact, in my major I have taken courses in science, economics, communications, history and the list goes on.

In addition to the stereotypes, there is often the assumption that if one is not directly affiliated with the College of Agriculture, then one would hardly find a need to “cross State Street.”

The term “crossing State Street” is meant in reference to the fact that a great majority of agriculture-based classes are taught in buildings south of State Street.

By students making such a statement they are not only are they lacking in knowledge about the buildings that are located south of State Street but also creating an image of isolation. It seems to be that the College of Agriculture is separate from the rest of Purdue.

To help resolve this issue there are little things that each student in the College of Agriculture may do to enlighten others on how agriculture brings one of the broadest areas of study in the university.

The first would be to stop ignoring the stereotypes and stop separating ourselves further from students in other studies. While it may seem that the easiest way to deal with such without having to go through lengthy, roundabout conversations is to ignore the separation and stereotypes, it does us no justice in the long run.

The second is what I consider as taking a “first impression” stance on the situation. If it seems that one lacks in interest or knowledge about my major or college, I take that as a chance to explain to them that it is one of the best things out there. I am passionate about what I study and what I hope to accomplish with my coursework, so why not share that with others?

Camille Quiñones is a senior at Purdue University where she majoring in Agricultural Communication and Naval Science.  

Senior blog posts continued

Purdue students begin finals this week.  Another year is almost complete.  For some Purdue students, this means their last few days at college.

To commemorate our AgComm seniors, we would like to finish our senior blog post series. Over the next two weeks, we’ll be sharing the remaining blog posts we have from them.

So, check back periodically to get some insight from our seniors and read their thoughts on AgComm.

You’re either cookin’ or you’re not

This week, we’re resuming our senior blog series.  Today’s post comes from Erik  Stepanovich.  Erik is majoring in AgComm and minoring in Agricultural Business.  

It really bothers me when someone says they’ll make me dinner and then they pull out a frozen pizza from the freezer or a bag of ramen noodles from the cupboard. It amazes me everyday how our generation or just college kids in general don’t know how to cook. By cooking I mean everything is put together from scratch not just from a box. I don’t know if its lack of money, time, creativity or that they really just never learned how. Cooking is not hard. In fact it’s easy once you do it. Being able to cook leads to a healthier lifestyle and if you can’t cook you’re not getting the balanced nutrition you need.

Another excuse I often hear is, “I don’t have enough time to cook.” You can make spaghetti in less than 15 minutes. It takes 10 minutes to boil noodles and even less time to make sauce with meat. Other things might take longer of course but the more you do it the faster you become. Most of my dinners take 20 minutes to prepare unless they’re in the oven. Believe me when I say this, it’s worth it to take time out of your day to stay away from processed and pre-cooked food.

So why don’t people cook? If they say it’s money, I don’t believe it. The average four-

Cooking chicken fried rice is as easy as this…

person family spends 10 percent of its income on groceries. That means as a single person you should spend 2.5 percent of your expenses on food. I go grocery shopping and spend $60 a week between my roommate and myself. That’s 30 dollars for my half. So if you’re eating out I’ll break it down for you. That’s 30 four-piece McNuggets from McDonalds, six 5 dollar foot-longs from Subway, four 8-inch subs from Penn Station or three pizza’s from Papa John’s. So when people tell me they can’t afford to cook and order food out, I laugh because they get maybe one good meal a day, whereas I get to eat three square meals a day.

Some people may feel they just don’t have the creativity to cook. Once again I don’t buy it. Call your grandma, call your mom or even buy a cookbook. They will give you ideas and tell you how to make it. You don’t need to be creative… you just need to know where to look for ideas. Once you’ve made something for the first time from an idea, it’s like second nature to make it again.

Being able to cook has so many health advantages and I’m not sure people see them. By following the food plate you get your daily allowance of fruits, meats, dairy, vegetables, and grains. Eating out or buying processed foods might satisfy some part of the food plate but in an unhealthy way. With eating out and process foods the fat, sugar and salt content is so high it ends up being terrible for you.

The finished product of chicken fried rice

Everyone needs to take a step back and look at cooking in a whole new light. Cooking actually can save you money. It doesn’t take much time once you know what you’re doing and if you don’t know what to make or how, just ask. Cooking’s main benefit is health and you can’t put a price on that.