2019 Best & Brightest: Sydney Keenan, Purdue University (Krannert)

Sydney Keenan

Purdue University, Krannert School of Management

Cowgirl boots, sparkles, dance, and determination. Enough said.”

Fun fact about yourself: I was a competitive Irish sstep dancerfor over 14 years.

Hometown: Boulder, CO

High School: Fairview High School

Major: Economics and Applied Math

Minor: Spanish

Favorite Business Course: The European Economy (or La Economía Europea- I took this course in Spain)

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

  • Rotaract, Vice President
  • Honors Leadership Council, Exploratory Studies Representative
  • Purdue Foundation Student Board, Vice President of Marketing and Communication
  • Jazz Band
  • National Collegiate Honors Council, Student Board Member
  • Global Science Partners
  • Timmy Global Health, Member of Development Committee
  • Exploratory Studies Ambassador
  • Eco-Reps
  • Dean’s List and Semester Honors
  • Association for Women in Mathematics

Where have you interned during your college career?

  • Aramark Sports and Entertainment
    • Denver, CO
    • Step up to Leadership Management Intern
  • University of Colorado, Boulder: Programming and Verification Lab
    • Boulder, CO
    • Research Intern

Where will you be working after graduation? After graduation, I plan on completing my MS in Economics at Purdue.

What company do you admire most? I most admire a non-profit organization in Colorado called Clinica Family Health. Clinica provides healthcare to low-income individuals and families. The doctors, nurses and the administration work incredibly hard to provide the best possible care for their patients. Every person that works there cares more about the mission than money. They sincerely want to help others be happier and healthier. One of my favorite traditions in this company is that every December, they hand out toys to families so children have presents to open on Christmas.

Who is your favorite professor? There are so many amazing professors at Purdue that I couldn’t choose just one. My professors are engaging, care about my education and my goals, come to residence halls to work with students, and inspire me to be my best self. They make me passionate and excited about school.

What did you enjoy most about your business school? I most enjoy the faculty at Krannert. The teachers are passionate about their subjects and truly care about students and their success. Teachers go above and beyond to ensure that we understand. Being around Krannert faculty has made me love economics and Purdue even more.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? Be confident in yourself and your decisions. Don’t be afraid to take a risk and fail. Failure helps you grow and learn. If you fail, though, always remember to pick yourself back up (or ask for help to get up).

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? Do some research! Look into different types of business-related fields. You’ll be surprised at the many different opportunities.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? Majoring in business does not make you only a business major. And it does not mean you only study business. Through business, you study marketing, economics, math, psychology, communication and more. I was shocked, happily, to find I could continue a multidisciplinary approach to my education as a business major.

“If I didn’t major in business, I would be majoring in or studying…math! Wait, I’m already doing that…. I would then choose nutrition science. Food has a huge impact on attitude and energy, and I would love to better understand all the different processes occurring in our bodies.”

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My freshman advisor, professor, and continuing mentor, Mary Beth Lencke. I entered Purdue as an undeclared major. I loved so many different topics and Purdue offered so many different majors that I didn’t know where to start. Mary Beth guided me on a process of self-exploration. She taught me how to determine my top values, what I want in a career, and helped me discover my own personality. Mary Beth gave me tools for growth and then showed me how to use them. It is due to her that I feel confident in my major and current path.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of?  During the Spring of 2018, I studied abroad in Spain. Although incredible and transforming, it was also quite challenging. In my program, I opted to live with a host family believing it would help me better adjust to the culture and “fully experience” Spain. Unfortunately, I did not have a positive relationship with my family. To make matters worse, I am very stubborn and did not want to change families—that was a failure in my eyes. I believed that if I tried hard enough, the situation would work out. Sadly, it was a futile effort, and it left me burned out. Finally, I switched homes. For some people, this may have been an easy or natural decision. However, for me, it was very difficult. Switching made me feel guilty and defeated. Additionally, I was scared that I would switch homes only to be in a worse situation. In the end, it all worked out. My new host mom was a true angel, and she made my time in Spain the best experience ever. I am proud I was able to take a risk and stand up for myself.

Which classmate do you most admire? I most admire my peer, and friend, Derek Berkshire. To me, he represents what it truly means to be a Boilermaker. Derek is a leader among his friends and peers. He is driven and passionate about his studies and interests, yet still finds the time to support others and give back to the greater community. Derek isn’t afraid to have hard conversations and stand up for what he believes is right. I admire Derek for his confidence, perseverance, balance, and attitude.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I want to thank my grandfather. My grandfather grew up in New York and supported himself through college. Now, he is a successful doctor with eight children and 15 grandchildren—all of which he has supported/is supporting through school. My grandfather is an inspiration to me; he taught me to persevere. He showed me that you can accomplish anything if you work hard and put your mind to it. My grandfather also showed me that you can change. Who you were is not who you are now. There is always an opportunity to grow, forgive, and be forgiven.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? I want to compete in a Tough Mudder and travel to Sydney, Australia.

What are your hobbies? In my free time, I enjoy playing my trombone, running, dancing or just sitting outside in the sun (as long as it is warm enough).

What made Sydney Keenan such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2019?

“As her Honors advisor, I have witnessed first-hand Sydney’s application of her knowledge and skills to help others through service and leadership. On the Purdue campus, Sydney is the Exploratory Studies representative for the Honors Leadership Council. She presents fellow students’ ideas and concerns to the Dean of the Honors College and serves as a resource for students in Exploratory Studies by organizing social and academic events, and by holding weekly office hours.

She also leads Honors College students on the national level, as a Student Representative on the Board of Directors for the National Collegiate Honors Council. She advocates for Honors College students at the NCHC national conference serves as Co-Chair of the Student Affairs Committee and contributes to regional and national meetings of the Board of Directors.

Sydney’s ability to connect with others and her dedication to leadership and service make her an invaluable member of the Honors College community, both here at Purdue and beyond.”

Anna Ochs
Honors College Advisor
Purdue University


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