May 6, 2020

Purdue announces student responders for commencements

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — This year’s on-demand commencement from Purdue University will include “Pomp and Circumstance,” an address from President Mitch Daniels and remarks from five student responders, which involved some ingenuity from everyone involved.

As many students left campus for the semester and faculty began remote instruction, the student responders and commencement planners started working to find ways for those speeches to still be delivered.

Purdue officials shipped a green screen to one student who filmed a response from their home, while another student used a friend’s recording studio.The three other students, each of whom either live in the area or were still on campus, made arrangements to come to Elliott Hall of Music to record their messages in front of a handful of socially distant Hall of Music staff and others helping out with commencement.

The tradition of a student responder dates to the 1970s when it shifted from the student body president to students from the various colleges and schools assigned to certain times for their ceremonies. Student responders are nominated and reviewed by a committee. The president or a designee then approves the responders. Five undergraduate students are selected for the five undergraduate divisions; the Graduate School division – traditionally the first of the six ceremonies on commencement weekend – does not have a student responder.

This year’s student responders:

wang-e Evan Wang (Photo provided) Download image

Evan Wang of Zionsville, Indiana, who is to receive a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science and a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics from the College of Science, will be the student responder in the Division II ceremony.

Wang has served as a resident assistant for University Residences, chairman of the board of directors of the Purdue Student Publishing Foundation, a representative to the Steps to Leaps Action Committee, and experimental design lead and advisor liaison for the Student Soy Innovation Competition.  Wang was a recipient of the National Merit Scholarship and received several scholarships from the College of Science and the Department of Mathematics. After graduation, he will work as a data engineer at Discover Financial Services in Riverwoods, Illinois. He intends to pursue a master’s degree in computer science and an MBA.

whaley-mug Jordyn Whaley (Photo provided) Download image

Jordyn Whaley of West Lafayette, Indiana, who is to receive a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from the College of Health and Human Sciences, will be the student responder in the Division III ceremony.

Whaley has served on the Central Committee and as evening events co-chair for Old Masters, on the leadership team for Greek InterVarsity, and is a former vice president of the foundation for Delta Gamma Fraternity. She is a student leader in Sigma Theta Tau International (nursing honor society). Whaley was the recipient of the Lilly Endowment Scholarship and the Purdue Presidential Scholarship. After graduation, she plans to become a registered nurse in a hospital setting.

eesha-patel Eesha Patel (Photo provided) Download image

Eesha Patel of San Jose, California, who is to receive a Bachelor of Science degree in industrial management with concentrations in engineering and analytical consulting, will be the student responder in the Division IV ceremony.

Patel is an Honors College graduate and a member of the Larsen Leaders Academy.  She has served as director of engagement for the Management Ambassadors, manager of a Krannert School of Management Instagram page, and a blogger for the school. She also served as a Forté campus representative.

Patel was the winner of the Kelley-Krannert Case Competition and a recipient of the Presidential Scholarship. After graduation, she will begin working as a financial analyst at Microsoft in Seattle.

gordon-mason Mason Gordon (Photo provided) Download image
Mason Gordon of Rushville, Indiana, who is to receive a Bachelor of Science degree in agricultural economics, will be the student responder in the Division V ceremony.

Gordon has served as a senator in Purdue Student Government, is a College of Agriculture ambassador, a Class Fellow, and has participated in the Indiana FFA Association and Purdue’s Academic Quiz Bowl team for the American Association of Agricultural and Applied Economics.

Gordon was recently named a member of the 21st class of George J. Mitchell Scholars. He also was a college leader with Farm Credit Mid-America, a Pearson Scholar through Pearson Education and received many other awards and honors. After graduation, Mason will pursue a master’s degree in Rural Futures Planning and Innovation at the National University of Ireland Galway as a Mitchell Scholar. He plans one day to pursue a doctorate in regional economics to influence rural economic development policy.

daloia-mug Mark D’Aloia (Photo provided) Download image

Mark D’Aloia, a native of Centerville, Ohio, who is to receive a Bachelor of Science in nuclear engineering, will be the student responder in the Division VI ceremony. He is one of five graduating seniors to earn the inaugural 2020 Purdue Engineering Fellowship. 

D’Aloia is an Honors College graduate and co-chair of selection for the Barbara Cook Chapter of Mortar Board. He was a recipient of the Homecoming 2019 Pillars of Excellency Service and Leadership award. In addition, he has served as president and director of member development for the Purdue Student Engineering Foundation, president of the Purdue Engineering Presidents Council, and evening and publicity co-chair for Old Masters. He has served as a College of Engineering ambassador, Boiler Gold Rush team leader, and researcher with the Ware Research Group. After graduation, he will begin his career as a sales engineer for H3D Gamma, an Ann Arbor, Michigan, startup that makes state-of-the-art radiation detectors for nuclear security applications.

The spring 2020 graduating class includes 5,394 undergraduates, 1,780 graduate students, 235 students from the professional programs, and 141 from Purdue Polytechnic’s statewide programs.

All students will have their names called during their respective ceremony. Graduates are encouraged to take photos of themselves and their families watching the ceremony or afterward and post to social media using the #PurdueWeDidIt hashtag.

Purdue’s College of Pharmacy celebrated graduation earlier by receiving permission to graduate 142 pharmacy students on April 17 as a way to provide additional support to pharmacies during the COVID-19 pandemic. The students became eligible to work as graduate pharmacists until they are fully licensed.

About Purdue University

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Related links:

Purdue’s Class of 2020 to receive special delivery commencement (April 29, 2020)

Top students to be recognized during 2020 commencement (April 28, 2020)

Pharmacy students to graduate early in preparation for future COVID-19 impact (April 9, 2020)

Purdue to pioneer on-demand commencement for Class of 2020 (March 26, 2020)

Purdue announces virtual commencement with future in-person option (March 17, 2020)

Purdue University Global commencement to include first-of-its kind virtual reality component (February 24, 2020)

Writer: Matthew Oates, 765-586-7496 (cell),, @mo_oates

Sources: Johnna Dexter-Wiens,

Chris Pass, senior assistant registrar,

Note to Journalists: Photographs of the student responders are available on Google Drive. Student responders are available for interviews via phone or web-based conference services. Please contact Matthew Oates at to schedule.

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