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Purdue for Life Foundation
Headshot of Daniel Dawes

A Journey of Engagement

“There is no doubt that networking and surrounding yourself with successful and ambitious people is a good thing to pursue throughout life.”

As a student, Dan Dawes (A’80) was involved in several extracurricular activities, including fraternity living and student government. His engagement didn’t stop after graduation. He served as a recent graduate representative on the Purdue Alumni Association’s board of directors for three years.

“Most of the directors at that time were senior executives and very successful in their long careers, so I was representing the front end of the career spectrum as an early professional,” Dawes says. “Serving on that board at that time cemented the notion in me that it would be vital for me to stay connected with Purdue and its alumni throughout my career.”

Dawes spent a total of 12 years on the board of directors, later serving as a director, chairman of the board, and Purdue for Life Foundation board representative. He has given back to the university in a variety of ways, including organizing and supporting a study abroad program to Zambia, Africa, for students to help lift a local farming community from poverty conditions. 

Family with goats

“I have a friend that manages Rivendale Farm in Zambia,” Dawes shares. “He came to me asking if there was a way to enhance their operations. Because I had maintained engagement within the College of Agriculture, I was able to contact two professors who took an interest in expanding opportunities for their students. The Zambia study abroad program has sent multiple cohorts of students to Rivendale Farm for one-month experiences, where they have learned about the culture and challenges in Africa while also helping to improve the goat and honey operations.”

A former Purdue agricultural and biological engineering student now manages the goat production operation and a graduate from the College of Health and Human Sciences manages a health improvement program for the community.

Daniel Dawes

Dawes’s connection to the study abroad program inspired him and his family to make a gift via an estate plan to help offset student expenses. “This gift to the College of Agriculture will support a unique student experience for those who want to participate in a study abroad program and not only learn about their own purpose in life but also make a great impact,” he explains. “Their study and work can help others, teaching locals to help themselves.”

Dawes has many fond memories of Purdue, both as a student and alumnus, and plans to continue to stay engaged with the university as a volunteer and donor. “Most Purdue alumni feel so grateful for the experience that we want to return the favor,” Dawes says. “Giving to Purdue is a combination of repaying the great gift of my college experience while also paying ahead to ensure more people can have their own experience. As a first-generation graduate in our family, I fondly remember the pride in my parents on my graduation day, just like the pride I felt when our sons walked across the stage years later. The Purdue experience is a means to an end. God willing, the journey will continue for many years.”

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Portrait of Purdue alumnus Brian Ford
A Sound Investment

As a wealth management advisor, Brian Ford (ME’07) helps his clients achieve financial wellness by applying the organizational and problem-solving skills he developed in college. Growing up in Hammond, Indiana, Ford had aspired to attend a Big Ten school and ultimately decided on Purdue’s School of Mechanical Engineering.