With her suburban upbringing in Newburgh, Ind., animal science major Amber Courter discovered early on that she had little in common with many of her farm-raised Purdue University classmates. To remedy this, she sought out opportunities to gain large-animal experience, such as internships at an equine vet practice, a commercial hog operation and a farm that raises grass-fed livestock.
“I had no experience with horses or pigs, but I decided to put myself out there and see what I could learn. It also helped me relate better to some of my classmates.”
Named the Outstanding Student in Animal Sciences her freshman through junior years at Purdue, it’s not surprising that Courter, now a senior, is one of the department’s student ambassadors. She often speaks with prospective and admitted students and participates in freshman orientation for students majoring in animal sciences. At the university level, she’s been a team leader for Boiler Gold Rush, Purdue’s new-student orientation program, for the past two years.
“I like incoming students, and I love sharing knowledge,” Courter says.
Her love of teaching is a natural fit with her career goal of becoming a veterinarian. “I want to help people learn how to take care of their animals and keep them healthy and happy.”
A study-abroad program in Nairobi, Kenya, helped to educate Courter about the efforts to preserve wildlife in Africa. “I learned about culture, wildlife, governmental policies and conservation in a way that was different than any other experience,” she said. Courter collected data on grouping patterns, habitats and foraging habits and learned the importance of completing accurate research.
Community service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega has let Courter hone her leadership abilities while serving others. “Giving back is very important to me, and there are so many ways you can step up and lead in this organization. I’ve had the opportunity to make the organization better by serving in a variety of leadership roles.”
What makes a good leader? “Wanting to make a difference, having a passion for something, being willing to listen to others’ ideas and then putting those ideas into action.”
And she should know.