February 25, 2023

Purdue Global celebrates nearly 1,000 graduates in Anaheim commencement ceremonies

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Dolan Williams found himself listening to the “Hamilton” soundtrack while working at a law firm – especially the song “Hurricane.”

Williams likened the lyrics of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hit musical about Alexander Hamilton to the life of the graduates he was speaking to: people who overcame personal challenges by deciding – in this case – to pursue higher education through Purdue Global to improve their lives, families and communities.

Williams, a graduate of Concord Law School, provided the keynote address to 990 Purdue Global graduates taking part in-person and virtually in commencement ceremonies on Saturday (Feb. 25) at the City National Grove of Anaheim.

“My hurricane was a combination of struggles I had growing up and believing that I could make something of myself,” Williams said. “How this affected me growing up was that I learned failure wasn’t an option because there was no backup plan. As I got older, got married and had children, I knew if I let the hurricane of my youth consume me, my family would suffer, too. The life raft for me, like many of you, was an education and a commitment to my growing family.”

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. Since 2017 he has operated the Law Office of Dolan M. Williams, located in San Diego. Williams, who also spoke at the February 2020 commencement in Los Angeles and the December 2020 virtual ceremony, supports Purdue Global by volunteering his time to assist with prospective student webinars and serving on the Concord Law School Advisory Council.

“My experiences of staying up late at night wondering whether I could afford to feed my family shaped me for the better. It taught me what I was made of and gave me the confidence that if I could live through that, I could live through anything,” Williams said. “Just one degree later, I see the fruits of the labor I put in years ago, and I promise you will, too.”

Degrees were awarded from the schools of Business and Information Technology, Education, General Education, Health Sciences, Nursing, Social and Behavioral Sciences, and Concord Law School. There were 478 bachelor’s degrees, 304 master’s degrees, 115 associate degrees, 73 certificates and 20 doctoral degrees (two Doctor of Nursing Practice, nine Juris Doctor and nine Executive Juris Doctor).

The graduates reside in 46 states – including 176 California residents and 56 from Indiana – as well as Bermuda, Canada, Indonesia, Puerto Rico, the Caribbean islands of Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saipan, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Some 178 graduates are affiliated with the military. Seven systemwide Purdue University employees are among those earning a Purdue Global degree or certificate via the Purdue Global education benefit.


dooley-grad Purdue Global Chancellor Frank Dooley presents a degree to a Purdue Global graduate during the Winter Commencement in Anaheim, California. (Purdue Global photo/Jon Garcia) Download image

Chancellor Frank Dooley addressed the graduates – 483 who registered to attend in-person and 507 virtually – their families and friends.

Dooley noted that over 9,300 Purdue Global students are affiliated with the military, including nearly 5,000 active duty, National Guard and reserve members serving worldwide; over 1,400 military families; and over 2,900 veterans. Almost half of Purdue Global students are the first in their family to attend college, while more than half care for a child or other dependent.

Dooley talked about the changes in technology, society and higher education, including the advancement of artificial intelligence across industries.

“Artificial intelligence has helped to increase efficiencies and further personalize learning,” Dooley said. “The future is here. I know some of you will work with these technologies. Others may go on to advance them.”

Eileen Cabale from Las Vegas, who received a Master of Science degree in instructional design and technology, performed the national anthem during the first ceremony. Melissa Johnson from Morgan Hill, Calif., who received a medical assistant certificate, performed the national anthem during the second ceremony.  

Purdue University President Mung Chiang congratulated the graduates via a video message.

The Feb. 25 ceremonies marked Purdue Global’s 16th commencement since its formation in 2018 and the second in Southern California. In California Purdue Global boasts 2,347 active students and 3,078 alumni.

In the days leading up to commencement, Purdue Global hosted various virtual celebratory events, including a toast, graduation “shout out” board and social media activities. Also in Anaheim was an in-person Black and Gold Celebration and Military Appreciation Dinner, as well as a 25th anniversary celebration for the Concord Law School.

The next Purdue Global commencement is scheduled for May 6 on the Purdue University campus in West Lafayette, Indiana. 

Writer/Media contact: Matthew Oates, oatesw@purdue.edu, @mo_oates

Sources: Frank Dooley, Beth Smith, Dolan Williams

Note to Journalists: Photos and b-roll of the graduation ceremony will be uploaded through the weekend and available via Google Drive.

Research News

More Research News

Purdue University, 610 Purdue Mall, West Lafayette, IN 47907, (765) 494-4600

© 2015-23 Purdue University | An equal access/equal opportunity university | Copyright Complaints | Maintained by Office of Strategic Communications

Trouble with this page? Disability-related accessibility issue? Please contact News Service at purduenews@purdue.edu.