New graduates urged to aim high and become leaders

May 15, 2010

Members of the Class of 2010 make the walk to Elliott Hall of Music on Friday (May 14) to begin the next chapters of their lives as Purdue alumni. More than 6,480 students were candidates for graduation at the West Lafayette campus. (Purdue University photo/Andy Hancock)

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue President France A. Córdova on Saturday (May 15)
encouraged new graduates to aim high and achieve, just as other Boilermakers before them.

Córdova addressed candidates during commencement ceremonies at the Elliott Hall of Music. More than 6,480 students were candidates to receive degrees. Four weekend ceremonies were held at the West Lafayette campus.

Gebisa Ejeta, 2009 World Food Prize winner and distinguished professor of agronomy at Purdue, was the main speaker at Friday's first commencement ceremony, while Córdova was the main speaker at the three other ceremonies.

Pointing out that Elliott Hall was dedicated 70 years ago this month, Córdova drew attention to the legacy of Boilermakers who received their degrees at the venue and the impact they've left on society.

"Purdue graduates have led Fortune 500 companies and launched cable TV networks. They've won Pulitzer, Nobel and World Food prizes. They've served as mayors, governors, members of the Congress and Cabinet officers," she said.

Purdue President France A. Córdova hands a degree to a new graduate during commencement ceremonies on Friday (May 14) in West Lafayette. The event was the first of four commencement ceremonies at the campus over the weekend. (Purdue University photo/Andy Hancock)

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"Purdue is the only university to produce three quarterbacks who have started, won, and been named Most Valuable Player of a Super Bowl."

She also mentioned the strong presence of Boilermakers in the area of space research.

"Two Boilermakers launched themselves from the Elliot Hall of Music, ultimately onto the surface of the moon," she said. "They're joined by many other astronauts and space engineers and scientists who hail Purdue as their alma mater. One will be aboard the last Space Shuttle to fly, scheduled for next November."

And she urged these new alumni to create their own success stories.

"We expect all of you to lead," Córdova said. "You will be ready because you have completed a Purdue education."

Córdova's speech touched on the lighter side of student life -- the small memories graduates will cherish the rest of their lives.

"You sledded down Slayter Hill, sipped Pappy's milkshakes, and constructed and raced in every kind of vehicle -- from the gas Grand Prix to the nation's first Electric Vehicle Grand Prix to the international Shell Eco-Marathon Americas, where Purdue took first place in the solar-power category," she said. "You cheered our Boilermakers to men's and women's Big Ten tournament championships … and trips for these teams to the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight.

"You rocked with Kelly Clarkson, Wilco and native Hoosier John Mellencamp. His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet and the "Queen of YouTube" Lady Gaga appeared on this stage -- though not together."

Córdova closed by summarizing the Purdue experience.

"You've learned how to work hard and still have a good time. You've learned to set your goals high and that you can accomplish much more working in teams," she said. "You've felt the power of giving back to your community. And you've learned that respect is the greatest attribute that you can accord to others, and can expect for yourself.

"Bravo, Class of 2010. We applaud your success."

Writer: Soumitro Sen, 765-496-9711, 

Source: France A. Córdova,

Commencement photo gallery

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