Rising Professionals Central Committee

Directing – Sofi Smith

Maria Sofia (Sofi) Smith is currently a junior in the school of Industrial Engineering with a minor in Economics. She was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela, being a proud international Boilermaker, but calls Purdue home. This summer, she studied abroad in China to take a course on intercultural teamwork, focusing on diversity and inclusion when working with people from all over the world. After this, she had the opportunity to intern in the Advisory practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers in New York City where she hopes to return next summer.

Sofi was a host during the inaugural Rising Professionals Program, where she became passionate about creating a community which embraces Purdue’s traditions. Apart from Rising Professionals, she is involved with the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and the Institute of Industrial Engineers. Sofi is honored to be able to lead a team of dedicated and ambitious students to create an impacting experience for Purdue underclassmen through the Rising Professionals program.

Host Coordinator – Becky Fritz

Becky is a junior and first year professional student in the College of Pharmacy pursuing a Doctor of Pharmacy degree and Spanish minor at Purdue. From Geneva, Illinois, she is proud to be the first Boilermaker in her family. In addition to her passion for Rising Professionals, Becky is involved with the Purdue Foundation Student Board and Timmy Global Health. She also participates in fragment-based drug design research in an effort to improve the quality of life for future patients. She has enjoyed serving as a member of the Purdue Alumni Student Experience Board of Directors and as a laboratory intern in the Department of Biological Sciences.

Becky loves to spend time at the piano and to travel internationally whenever she gets the chance. She hopes to one day be a medical science liaison for a pharmaceutical company. Becky wholeheartedly embraces the pursuit of the full Boilermaker experience both inside of and outside of the classroom in order to grow academically, professionally, and personally. Her time as a Rising Professionals host made her fall in love with Purdue all over again so she looks forward to creating a similar experience for the Host Class of 2017.

Publicity – Joseph MacDonald

Joseph (JoJo) Keanu MacDonald is a current sophomore studying Biomedical Engineering who is also on the pre-med track. Growing up in Los Altos, California, JoJo is the first in his family to attend Purdue University. Not only is he part of the Rising Professionals, he is also a part of the Native American Educational and Cultural Center, the Asian American Association, and the Hawaiian club. Additionally, JoJo is a brother in the Delta Chi fraternity, for which he was the academic chair for his pledge class, as well as a Team Leader for Boiler Gold Rush.


When he can, JoJo enjoys playing soccer, watching football, as well as hanging out with his friends and family. JoJo spent the summer at Purdue taking summer courses to get ahead. In the future, he plans to attend medical school and become a doctor, eventually working as both a doctor and in medical affairs for a medical device company. JoJo is thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the other Rising Professionals Central Committee to spread and grow  the organization to the rest of campus for future boilermaker generations.

Scheduling – Julia Pennington

Julia Pennington is a junior in the College of Liberal Arts and College of Health and Human Sciences studying Law and Society and Brain and Behavioral Sciences.  She is originally from Greenwood, Indiana and follows in her dad’s footsteps in pursuing a Purdue degree. Apart from Rising Professionals, Julia is a Justice on the Purdue Student Supreme Court, a member of the Community Standards Board, an ambassador for the Honors College, treasurer for the Honors College and Residence Society, and a mentor for first-year Honors students.

In her free time, Julia enjoys spending time with her friends and family, attending Purdue basketball games, and listening to music. Following the completion of her undergraduate studies, she plans to further her education by attending law school.  During her time at Purdue, Julia has become immensely proud of this institution and what it offers to all those who attend. She was deeply impacted by her time as a host for Rising Professionals and looks forward to further developing the program as a part of the Central Committee.

Events – Deklin Veenhuizen

Deklin Veenhuizen is a junior in the College of Agriculture pursuing a degree in Food Science along with an Entrepreneurship Certificate. He grew up in Greenwood, Indiana and is a proud third generation Boilermaker. In addition to being involved with Rising Professionals, Deklin is heavily involved in various facets of campus leadership. He currently serves as: a member of the Purdue Foundation Student Board, the Honors College Residential Society Facilitator and Representative to the Honors Leadership Council, Honors College Ambassador, College of Agriculture Ambassador, Supervisor for Boiler Gold Rush 2016, and a mentor to first-year Honors Students. In his free time, Deklin loves attending Purdue athletic events, traveling, and spending time with friends and family. This past summer Deklin assisted in the Food Microbiology lab where he continues to pursue industry leading research concerning Food Safety. In the future, he hopes to further his education by pursuing a graduate degree or go directly into the food industry within a Food Safety or Product Development role. Deklin was inspired by the many lessons learned and connections made as a host in the inaugural year of Rising Professionals and can’t wait to see the further impact it continues to make on the larger Purdue community.

Internal – Drew Greene

Drew Greene is a sophomore in the Krannert School of Management pursuing degrees in Finance and Economics. He grew up in Carmel, Indiana as a third-generation Boilermaker. He attended his first Purdue football game when he was three years old and has always been a diehard Purdue sports fan. In addition to his involvement in Old Masters and Rising Professionals, he is the Logistics Chair of the Krannert School of Management Council, co-founder of the Purdue TAMID Consulting and Investing Group, and is a Brother in the Sigma Chi Fraternity currently serving as Internal Philanthropy Chair and Assistant Treasurer.

In his free time, he is an avid golfer, enjoys playing or watching basketball, reading, and spending time with friends and family. This past summer, Drew participated in a study abroad trip in London, learning about British culture and the European Union. In the future, he hopes to work in the banking or corporate finance fields. He is very excited to be a part of the Rising Professionals Central Committee and to develop the program to further make an impact on the university and student body.