Looking back, we could have never imagined as 18 year old high school seniors the impact college would have on our lives personally, professionally, and financially. Not knowing one another and coming from very different backgrounds, we both chose Purdue and for very different reasons found ourselves in West Lafayette.
For me, it had to do with quality and tradition. After seriously considering smaller schools, I thought it best to attend a larger University where there would be more opportunity and competition. To add fuel to my fire, both my father and aunt were Purdue graduates and my grandfather was an employee of the agronomy farm. To say I grew up as a Boilermaker would be an understatement. For Gretchen, the out of state tuition made for much more of a daunting decision. However, she quickly found her new home after the first college visit. She cites that the kindness of the people and the character of the institution made Purdue an easy selection.
At Purdue, I studied Economics and Psychology in addition to being President of the Economics Club and Vice-Chairman of the College Republicans. Despite working evenings at the Purdue Telefund (a perfect college job!), I was a regular patron of Harry’s Chocolate Shop! Gretchen studied Nursing and Psychology and was active in the College Republicans. She also may have rescued a person or two lifeguarding at the co-rec.
The favorite part of my Purdue experience occurred the second semester of my freshman year. A friend from communications class invited me to her dorm one Friday evening to play cards with her and friends. One of the friends was a beautiful blond with blue eyes named Gretchen. It was my fortunate opportunity to teach her the game of Euchre. That night we developed a friendship which blossomed into a relationship. Our courtship at Purdue consisted of meals in the dining halls, studying in the undergraduate library, movies in Stewart, bowling in the Union, football games, sledding down Slater, concerts at Elliot Hall, and of course “breakfast club” outings. I will be forever grateful to Purdue for this kind introduction! We also found Purdue makes the perfect location for engagement photos!
We agree that while it’s only been five short years since our final walk across the stage of the Elliot Hall of Music, the memories get sweeter with time. The dedication of the faculty, the beautiful campus, the extracurricular activities, and the culture of hard work and discipline create an unparalleled degree which appreciates in value as the years fly by. At Purdue, we learned how to think in different ways. We learned right from wrong, although sometimes the hard way. Most importantly, we built relationships with our peers and with our University that will last a lifetime (perhaps you even have Purdue to thank for introducing you to your spouse). We stand ready as a family to give back to Purdue in any way in which we are called. It is our belief that we spent only a short time on this earth. By giving back with our time and money, we can help future generations and perpetuate the good and noble work that Purdue has been doing for decades. We encourage every Purdue Alumni to become a lifetime member of the alumni association and to support their individual school or an organization that impacted their life.
John and Gretchen Dawson, Purdue ‘07