For Jocelyn Wong, Chief Marketing Officer at Lowe’s, the Purdue University Student Soybean Product Innovation Competition, sponsored by the Indiana Soybean Alliance (ISA), is deeply personal. As the competition’s first winner 25 years ago for the development of soy crayons, it colored Wong’s future by awakening her passion and inspiring a highly successful marketing career. This year, 37 students took part in the competition with a soy-based drinking straw taking top honors.

Jocelyn Wong, Chief Marketing Officer for Lowe’s, was the first winner of the Student Soybean Product Innovation Competition 25 years ago and inspired the audience with her personal story during the 2019 awards ceremony. Photo Credit: Indiana Soybean Alliance

During a heartfelt keynote speech at the 2019 awards ceremony and 25th Anniversary celebration on March 27, Wong emphasized the importance of innovation, sharing her experiences with the audience of students, faculty, soybean farmers and other program supporters.  The competition was a game changer for her career; so much so that 25 years later she stills keeps the original box of crayons on her bathroom shelf as a daily reminder.

“These investments are much more than funding ideas, they are funding so much more – dreams and possibilities that live beyond tonight,” Wong told the audience.

“We need your ideas, your passion, your creativity, to change the conversation, to help us solve problems and to bring people together.”  She went on to tell the students to “never lose your curiosity, never lose sight of what’s possible.”

Click here to listen to Wong’s keynote speech and learn more about her inspiring life story of striving for the American dream.  Wong learned the meaning of sacrifice and hard work by helping her immigrant parents run a family business and by working her way up to the top levels of corporate America.

Soy Straw Wins 2019 Competition

Funded by the soybean checkoff through the ISA, this year’s winning team developed a soy-based drinking straw. Team Stroy’s biodegradable straw tackles a major environmental concern head-on by innovating a soy-based solution. The straw offers the material consistency of a plastic straw and outperforms the primary commercialized alternative, paper straws, in quality, price and materials.

The 37 Purdue students formed 12 teams that participated in this year’s contest. Team Soy Seal, students Alyson Chaney and Peyton Clark, earned the second-place award for making a wood finish with soy nanocellulose. The third-place award went to Team Soyshield, students Jason Clark and Thomas Smith, for innovating a soy-based windshield wiper fluid.

The winning Team Stroy includes Natalie Stephenson, a senior studying marketing and data analytics; Morgan Malm, a graduate student pursuing a master’s degree in food science; and Ruth Zhong, a senior studying electrical engineering. Photo Credit: Indiana Soybean Alliance

About the Competition

The competition is designed to find innovative new uses for soybeans that meet a market need and ultimately increase demand for soybeans. Following the annual competition, ISA evaluates each soy-based innovation created by the student teams to determine if they have commercial viability to break into the marketplace and ultimately increase the demand for soybeans. Some past successful soy-based products that got their start from the student competition include Wong’s crayons and soy candles.

For more on the winners, click here.