December 7, 2020

Purdue Global commencement recognizes more than 1,700 graduates

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — More than 1,700 Purdue University Global graduates worldwide took part in virtual commencement ceremonies on Saturday (Dec. 5).

Three commencements were streamed using a 360-degree camera so participants could feel fully immersed in the ceremony. Graduates received a branded Purdue Global headset before the commencement and were recognized by their name and degree, along with a photo, during the ceremony. Graduates also had the option of viewing their ceremony via a traditional static view.

Degrees were awarded from the schools of Business, Education, Health Sciences, Information Technology, Nursing, Social and Behavioral Sciences, and Concord Law School. There were 805 bachelor’s degrees, 531 graduate degrees, 232 associate degrees, 141 certificates and 19 doctorate degrees.

More than 170 of the graduates are Indiana residents, while 20 live outside of the U.S. (Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada, Dominica, Germany, Guam, Guyana, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and South Korea). Thirty-nine employees of Purdue West Lafayette, Purdue Fort Wayne, Purdue Northwest, Purdue Global and the Purdue Alumni Association are among those who earned a Purdue Global degree or certificate via the Purdue Global education benefit.

williams-d Dolan Williams

Dolan Williams, a previous graduate of Purdue Global’s Concord Law School and a member of the Purdue Alumni Association board of directors, provided the keynote address. Williams was working as an online college advisor in 2010 when he decided to make a career change and pursue law school. As the sole provider for his family of six, a traditional path was not feasible, so he chose Concord Law School, the online institution now part of Purdue Global. He currently is an attorney in San Diego.

“I’m just an ordinary guy who took advantage of an opportunity to change my life through getting a higher education,” Williams said. “Part of the reason I chose to go back to school was to give my future self the tools and credentials I needed to make something of myself. … For the first time in my life, I don’t feel powerless to help people in my community. Before Purdue Global, the most I could ever do is sit from the sidelines, but this time I got in the game. If I could go back, I would tell my past self to picture the kind of life that you wanted, and then just do something every day to make that happen, because it will.”

pt-pg-harbor-jon Jon Harbor

Purdue Global Provost Jon Harbor addressed the graduates, recognizing them for their academic achievements – especially during these unparalleled times – and celebrating their successes.

“As we all know, 2020 has been a year unlike any other,” Harbor said. “In the midst of these trying times, I’m so glad that today gives us something to celebrate, and our ceremony has been specifically designed to honor you. Even though we cannot be together, I am thankful that this special graduation provides us with a chance to connect from wherever you are watching around the globe.”

Harbor noted that almost 10,000 of Purdue Global’s nearly 35,000 students are affiliated with the military, including over 5,200 active duty, National Guard and reserve members serving around the globe. Fifty percent are the first in their family to attend college, and more than 62% have a child or other dependent.

“These numbers shape the individuals who joined you in the classroom and will join you in the workforce,” Harbor said. “They depict who we are as an institution. We’re making a difference.”

vandenbosch-vr Purdue Global graduates received a branded Purdue Global headset before commencement Dec. 5 and were recognized by their name and degree, along with a photo, during the virtual ceremony. (Kaplan Higher Education Photo/Chad Skelton)

Each of the three ceremonies featured the national anthem performed by three Purdue Global graduates: Leighton Johnson (U.S. Navy veteran), from Martinez, California, who earned a Bachelor of Science degree in health care administration; Ashley Yeung, from Monterey Park, California, who earned a Master of Business Administration degree in marketing; and Shemeika Wright-Hemmings, from West Palm Beach, Florida, who earned a Master of Science in Psychology degree in applied behavior analysis.

On Wednesday (Dec. 2), Purdue Global hosted a revolutionary virtual graduation fair that included a slideshow of all graduates, a virtual toast, dean and department live chat rooms, a graduation “shout out” board and virtual photo booth.

At its February commencement in Los Angeles, 75-plus graduates participated virtually thanks to a first-of-its-kind pilot program that was replicated for its June commencement and for Saturday’s ceremonies.

“When we tested our virtual graduation in February, we certainly did not expect to be conducting our entire June and December events virtually,” said Patti Pelletier, director of the learning and leadership community for Purdue Global, who orchestrated the virtual ceremony. “The pilot in February gave us the opportunity to test what could be possible and led us to the virtual graduation fair. It was wonderful to provide the opportunity for over 1,700 graduates to celebrate their achievements.”

Over 10,000 Purdue Global students have graduated in the last year.

About Purdue University Global

Purdue University Global delivers personalized online education tailored to the unique needs of adults who have work or life experience beyond the classroom, enabling them to develop essential academic and professional skills with the support and flexibility they need to achieve their career goals. It offers a hyper-tailored path for students to earn an associate, bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree, based on their work experience, desired pace, military service, previous college credits and other considerations – no matter where they are in their life journey. Purdue Global serves nearly 35,000 students (as of October 2020), most of whom earn their degree online. It also operates several regional locations nationwide. Purdue Global is a nonprofit, public university accredited by The Higher Learning Commission. It is affiliated with Purdue University’s flagship institution, a highly ranked public research university located in West Lafayette, Indiana. Purdue University also operates two regional campuses in Fort Wayne and Northwest, Indiana, as well as serving close to 6,000 science, engineering and technology students at the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) campus. For more information, please visit

Media Contact: Tom Schott, 765-427-1721,

Sources: Jon Harbor,

Patti Pelletier,

Beth Smith,

Dolan Williams,

Related Release:

Purdue University Global commencement to include first-of-its-kind virtual reality component

Note to Journalists: Photos of Jon Harbor, Dolan Williams and the virtual reality headset are available on Google Drive.

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