Challey Spotlight: Braxten Bastian

The Challey Institute for Global Innovation and Growth is highlighting the impact of our faculty and students at NDSU and in the community. This month, we are shining a spotlight on Braxten Bastian.

Challey Spotlight: Braxten Bastian

Freshman, Agricultural Economics

Braxten Bastian is a freshman studying agricultural economics with a minor in entrepreneurship at NDSU. He grew up in Corvallis, Oregon, and hopes to build a successful career in venture capital. Braxten is a recipient of the new Sheila and Robert Challey Institute Scholarship, which supports students who are interested in learning about economic opportunity and human flourishing. In addition to his activities with the Challey Institute, Braxten is involved with the Bison Fund and the CFA Institute Research Challenge.

Your family drove nearly 24 hours to visit campus in spring 2021. Tell me about that visit and your decision to enroll at NDSU.

My dad works for the Oregon State University Foundation. Through him, I met Carl Casale, who is part owner of Ospraie Ag Science, a venture capital firm investing in agriculture. I told him about my interests, and he encouraged me to check out Dr. Bill Wilson (a University Distinguished Professor in the Department of Agribusiness and Applied Economics) and NDSU. He set up a meeting with Dr. Wilson and two graduate students. So, during my junior year, I went on a college trip for Spring Break. I visited Washington State University, Oregon State University, the University of Idaho, Montana State University, and the University of Montana. The last place I visited was NDSU.

I got to Fargo, and I loved it. The people were amazing and nice. I met with Dr. Wilson in the Commodities Trading Room, and it blew my mind. He told me about the Bison Fund and all of the networking opportunities; they are insanely successful with their placement rate. Ever since that visit, that was it—hook, line, and sinker—and now I’m here.

What has been the biggest surprise since coming to NDSU?

The biggest surprise is, quite honestly, all of the opportunities. The first week, I had an opportunity to be involved in the Bison Fund. I traveled to Minneapolis with the club, and I was the only freshman there, so that was insanely cool. Just building connections right off the bat. Everybody has been really accepting and invested in me. I bet I have had over 10 meetings in the past couple of weeks. It’s super cool to see all the opportunities and the dedication people around here give to incoming students.

You are pursuing the forthcoming certificate in private enterprise, and you are currently enrolled in the Human Progress and Flourishing Workshop. How is this program helping you reach your career goals?

For me personally, it goes back to being in knowledge and in-taking different perspectives. I have been told many times: “Knowledge grows exponentially.” So whether it’s reading the books or listening to the speakers, I’m just trying to broaden my mind and my opinions on things. I mean, we learn about everything from the global down to the local level. One thing that has really interested me is supply chains and basic economics. It’s super interesting to see how everyday things are affected by these reactions.

What role do scholarships and philanthropy play in enhancing your NDSU experience?

It allows me to focus on school, and that’s a huge part because I’m here to learn. It goes back to the generosity of the community. That is another reason why I chose NDSU. I saw all of the opportunities for scholarships, for research, for everything like that. NDSU is such a giving community, and that reassures me I am in a good place that wants me to succeed and gives me the means to do that. It’s really awesome.

The Sheila and Robert Challey Institute for Global Innovation and Growth aims to advance understanding in the areas of innovation, trade, institutions, and human potential to identify policies and solutions for the betterment of society. Learn more at
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