Purdue Northwest graduates urged to leverage their “license to learn”

Purdue Northwest graduates urged to leverage their “license to learn”

Class of 1,082 graduates honored during two Commencement Exercises

Purdue University Northwest (PNW) graduates have earned a “license to learn” that they should leverage wisely and with integrity as they embark on their careers, keynote speaker Stewart McMillan stated during two commencement ceremonies today (May 15).

McMillan, chairman emeritus of Valparaiso-based Task Force Tips, Inc. and a 1977 graduate of PNW, shared his insights gained from a lifetime in the firefighting industry, as a business and community leader and philanthropist, and as a licensed pilot.

Flight instructors traditionally hand a newly licensed pilot the freshly earned license with the statement, “This is your license to learn,” McMillan said. Earning their degrees gives graduates a license to learn that continues throughout life.

“School is very different from the real world. You are given inputs to a problem; you solve the problem and then you look up the answer to make sure you got it right,” McMillan stated. “Everyday life is quite different. You are given lots of inputs – many you do not need. You must figure out how to solve the problem and then you wait to see if it was right, as there is no place to look up the answer.

“It requires some additional skills in the backpack to navigate it successfully and without regrets,” he added. McMillan urged graduates to act with integrity, find strong mentors, be willing to be wrong, talk to everyone and anyone, and to be humble as they move forward in their careers and in life.

“Leaders are not expected to have all the answers, but they are expected to have the integrity to admit when they do not, and the integrity to admit when they are wrong,” McMillan said. “The people you lead will follow you on your journey only if they have trust – trust that when you know the answer you will act, and trust that when you do not know the answer, you will ask for help.”

PNW’s 2021 spring graduating class consists of 1,082 candidates, including the conferring of one doctoral degree, 141 master’s degrees and 940 baccalaureate degrees. Some 690 degree honorees planned to participate in the PNW commencement ceremonies. The university held in-person, outdoor ceremonies with the Nils K. Nelson Bioscience Innovation Building as a backdrop. The state-of-the-art building opened in August 2020.

The graduations also included presentation of a Chancellor Medallion to the graduating seniors in each of the university’s five academic colleges with the highest grade point average.

Medallion recipients are:

College of Business

  • Hailey Arlis (Minooka, IL)
  • Shelbi Clark (Moxee, WA)
  • Kyle Kelly (Schererville, IN)

College of Engineering and Sciences

  • Emily Higley (Dyer, IN)
  • Regan Sink (Chesterton, IN)

College of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences

  • Amy Nieves (Chesterton, IN)
  • Kayla Vasilko (Crown Point, IN)

College of Nursing

  • Danielle Biancardi (Crown Point, IN)
  • Katrina Machtemes (Michigan City, IN)

College of Technology

  • Yash Patel (Oak Forest, IL)
  • Andrew Pierce (Valparaiso, IN)

Explore the stories of successful PNW graduates at pnw.edu/commencement-2021.

Purdue University Northwest

Purdue University Northwest (PNW) is a premier metropolitan university dedicated to empowering transformational change in our students and in our community. Located in Northwest Indiana, near Chicago, PNW values academic excellence, supports growth, and celebrates diversity. For more information about PNW, visit www.pnw.edu.