After years of studying and dedication, Purdue Northwest College of Humanities, Education, and Social Sciences students celebrated their hard earned graduation Friday afternoon in Hammond.
The first of the university’s spring graduations took place in the Fitness and Recreation Center on the Hammond campus. Hundreds of students and their families and friends filled the center to celebrate and honor the hard work and dedication to learning these students have shown.
Commencement was kicked off when administration members made their way to the stage, followed by faculty members and graduates earning Masters degrees. Then came the long procession of students earning their Bachelors degrees, ranging from English to Sociology to Nursing and so many more.
Dr. Thomas L. Keon, Chancellor of Purdue Northwest, took to the podium to address the graduates and congratulate them on a job well done as they finish a journey years in the making. He then welcomed Indiana State Representative David Ober, a 2009 Purdue Northwest graduate and the chosen speaker for the graduation, to the stage to reflect back on not only the new graduates time at PNW, but also his own.
“The culture here at Purdue Northwest is completely different from anything I’ve experienced,” said Ober, an Albion, Ind. native. “My high school graduating class of 87 in my hometown was nearly all white, and for the first time in my life I experienced diversity… There’s a change that happens when you are immersed in such incredible diversity. You begin to lose sight of the immediate differences and gain a better respect of your similarities.”
With a call for unity and diversity ringing in their ears, it was time for the eager students to finally walk across that stage. Starting with the awarding of the Masters degrees, students made their way across the stage, shaking the hands of Chancellor and receiving the diploma they have worked so hard for.
Before awarding the undergraduate degrees, Chancellor Keon asked for the graduating seniors graduating with honors and distinction to stand and be recognized for the accomplishments.
Next came the undergraduate degrees. Students walked along the stage while friends and families cheered them on, shaking hands with the Chancellor and celebrating the end of their college career and the start of their next adventure. But there was one student whose college career was anything but traditional.
Raven Osborne of Gary celebrated her college graduation Friday afternoon- a month before her high school graduation from the 21st Century Charter School in Gary. She was the last to receive her diploma because PNW wanted to focus on her amazing accomplishment, resulting in a standing ovation from everyone in the crowd.
“I wasn’t expecting the standing ovation, but it was really great,” said Osborne, who graduated with a degree in Sociology. “All of my professors and classmates have been so patient with me, so my time at Purdue Northwest has been overall an amazing experience.”
Thus concluded the first of the four Purdue Northwest spring graduations. Afterwards, families and new graduates were welcomed to an informal reception at the Student Union to celebrate their accomplishments. As the graduates filtered out of the Fitness and Recreation Center, their families and friends greeted them with big hugs, flowers, and congratulations.
“It’s really big for our family,” said Deirdre Ketcham-Cassidy of Griffith, whose granddaughter, Ashley graduated Friday afternoon. “My mother and I are immigrants who came here from Ireland over 50 years ago. Ashley is the first great-granddaughter to graduate from college.”
Ashley Kethcam graduated with a degree in English and is now looking forward to getting back in the swing of writing everyday.
“I was here for 5 and a half years, so I’m glad to be done,” Ketcham said. “Now I’m going to start looking for a job, but I’m really looking forward to start writing science-fiction and fantasy again, which I haven’t be able to do as much lately.”
Now that there are no more exams or papers or homework due, the graduates of Purdue Northwest are looking forward to their next adventure, and some much needed time off.
Congratulations to all of the 2017 graduates!
For a complete schedule of the Purdue Northwest spring commencements, go to https://www.pnw.edu/commencement/.