February 19, 2024

Purdue Global celebrates the accomplishments of nearly 1,200 graduates at commencement ceremonies

Graduates commended for completing their comeback during commencement at Toyota Music Factory in Irving, Texas

IRVING, Texas — Continue to be bold warriors, rising up to face challenges and change. Step into greatness.

That was the message of Purdue Global’s commencement speaker Walda Collins as she addressed the nearly 1,200 graduates — 679 in person, 514 virtual — who celebrated completing their comeback during the Feb. 17 commencement ceremonies at the Pavilion at Toyota Music Factory in Irving. A Purdue Global alumna who earned her degree in professional studies in 2022, Collins is also a chef, author, Marine Corps veteran, life coach and pastor who resides in San Antonio.  

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Sharing encouragement to push through their battles, Collins spoke about her own challenges and her motivations to accomplish her milestones.

“Some of you wanted to give up and throw in the towel, but life threw it right back at you and said, ‘You’re too close to give up now,’” Collins said. “Some of you wanted to quit, but the warrior in you wouldn’t allow you to.”

pgcommence-grads Purdue Global graduates at Winter 2024 Commencement. (Purdue Global photo/Greta Bell) Download image

Collins described the traits of a warrior, reminding the graduates that they are already warriors because of what they accomplished to get to where they are today.

“Warriors understand that before every birth there is a battle,” she said. “I’ve come to know warriors don’t make excuses — they build expectations. Warriors possess a deliberate expectation to succeed.”

Collins noted that the graduates have broken away from social norms and risen above mediocrity. 

“Continue to face life’s challenges, embrace change and remain committed to your purpose,” Collins said. “And in doing so, it will unleash the warrior in you.”

A full text of Collins’ commencement speech is available online.

Chancellor Frank Dooley addressed the graduates, acknowledging the ever-changing landscape of online learning and the role artificial intelligence is playing in that, as well as in health care, e-commerce, the automotive industry and beyond.

Although education is still very much a human-influenced industry, Dooley said, “artificial intelligence has helped to increase efficiencies and further personalize learning. I know some of you will work with these technologies. Others may go on to advance them. Either way, I can’t wait to see and hear all about what your futures hold.”

The graduates represented 49 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands and include 44 Indiana residents and 247 residents from Texas. Eleven countries are represented, including Aruba, the Bahamas, Canada, India, Mexico, the Philippines, Spain and Turkey. There were 250 graduates affiliated with the military, including active-duty personnel, veterans and family members. Nine Purdue University systemwide employees participated in the ceremony. Currently, 208 Purdue University systemwide employees are working on their degree or certificate via the Purdue Global education benefit.

The university has 2,938 active students from Texas and 5,362 Purdue Global alumni living in Texas.

pgcommence-pavilion Nearly 1,200 graduates received degrees during two in-person and one virtual ceremony at Purdue Global’s Winter 2024 Commencement at the Pavilion at Toyota Music Factory in Irving, Texas. (Purdue Global photo/Kelsey Lefever) Download image

In addition to the keynote address given by Collins, married couple Alina and Deaon Smith of Indianapolis performed the national anthem together during the first ceremony; Samantha Bray LaRue of Laredo, Texas, sang in the second. Alina Smith earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing; Deaon Smith is a graduate student working on a Master of Science in psychology with a concentration in addiction counseling. LaRue earned a Bachelor of Science in psychology.

Purdue Global is Purdue’s online university for working adults, with more than 35,000 students enrolled and an estimated 11,000 degrees and certificates awarded each year. The current student snapshot at Purdue Global includes these data points:

  • 59% of students are 30 years of age or older.
  • 40% of students are from underserved populations.
  • 52% of students have a child or other dependents.
  • 50% are first-generation college students.
  • Approximately 10,000 are military-affiliated students, a population that includes uniformed personnel, veterans and eligible dependents.

Saturday’s ceremonies marked Purdue Global’s 19th commencement since its formation in 2018.

Purdue Global is an expansion of Purdue’s 21st century land-grant mission to provide educational access to all people. Purdue Global helps prepare students for what’s next in their lives and careers by offering programs that lead to a degree backed by Purdue University.

 The next Purdue Global commencement is scheduled for May 4, 2024, in West Lafayette, Indiana.

About Purdue Global

Purdue Global is Purdue’s online university for working adults who have life experience and often some college credits. It offers flexible paths for students to earn an associate, bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree, based on their work experience, military service and previous college credits, no matter where they are in their life journey. Purdue Global is a nonprofit, public university accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and backed by Purdue University. For more information, visit https://stories.purdue.edu/purdue-global/.

Writer/Media contact: Adam Bartels, adam.bartels@purdueglobal.edu 

Sources: Beth Smith, Walda Collins

Note to journalists: Photos and clips of speeches from Purdue Global Chancellor Frank Dooley and the keynote speaker, as well as the national anthem performance, are available via Google Drive.

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