When she was a junior in high school in Avon, Indiana, Diane Rolston decided she wanted to go into fashion apparel design. Her parents insisted she get involved in some sort of business program. She decided to do both, majoring in management and apparel design at Purdue.
It turned out to be a great decision. Consider the experiences and activities the fifth-year senior has enjoyed:
- She has studied abroad in Rome, Milan, Paris, and London, with the latter a year-long program.
- She serves as a tutor for Purdue student-athletes, and works as a volunteer at the Purdue Visitor Information Center.
- She is president of the Management Information Systems Association, a student club at the Krannert School.
- She has interned with Escada in Chicago, BodyAmr in London, and Boston Scientific in Minneapolis.
But a mission trip to Haiti may have been her most influential experience so far. Through her church, Rolston and several other students traveled to the country for a one-week operations assistance project for Deep Springs International, which seeks to alleviate disease in developing countries through sustainable safe water programs.
Rolston was shocked by what she saw. “There was a family of 10 living in a house about the size of a car,” she recalls. “There was no concrete foundation and only one bed. The eldest daughter was sick in bed and the grandmother was living outside.
“I asked when was the last time they had eaten. Through our translator, they told me that they had boiled leaves for breakfast, and that they try and eat at least every other day. It brought tears to my eyes.”
But Rolston was struck by the indomitable spirit of the Haitians, despite their near-impossible living conditions. “Because they focused on the simple things in life, like caring for their family, community came first,” she says. “It’s strange that the people who have the least in life, at least in tangible objects, can teach you what’s important and the true value of living.”
Thanks to her activities and academic work—she holds a 3.78 GPA—Rolston has interviewed with more than a dozen companies, and has received several job offers. Partly inspired by Kiva co-founder Jessica Jackley, who spoke at Purdue in September 2010, she hopes to one day create a business solution to help the needy, like those she met in Haiti.
“I’d like to make a positive impact on the world,” she says.