HAMMOND | One unassuming phone call from a professor sealed the deal for Brandon Rukes and his decision to attend Purdue University Calumet.
The call Rukes received as a high school senior four years ago came from Bipin Pai, a professor of mechanical engineering who, at the time, also directed the university’s Honors Program.
“That impressed me,” Rukes, 22, of Griffith, said about the call. “I wanted to go to college close to home, and I was impressed with Purdue Calumet’s Honors Program. As soon as Bipin called me, that was it — done deal — I didn’t apply anywhere else.”
Rukes would go on to graduate this spring from PUC with a degree in management, double majoring in accounting and finance. In June, he began a job in the Accounting Department at U.S. Steel Gary Works, where he served an internship last summer.
One might say Rukes’ PUC experience was “honors” rich. In addition to enrolling in the university’s Honors Program, he worked as a student employee for the program and served as president of the program’s Honors Student Association. He also took advantage of university student research and other experiential learning opportunities.
“Being in the Honors Program was one of the best opportunities of my life,” he said. “I made friends and took advantage of networking. The program also allowed me to enroll in special topics classes and participate in community outreach service, which is a component of the program.”
Reflecting on serving the Boys & Girls Club of Northwest Indiana, Humane Society Calumet Area and the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life initiative, he said, “Yes, it’s a program requirement, but you come to cherish it. I’m definitely going to miss it.”
As a student employee for the Honors Program, Rukes so diligently and effectively did his job that he earned Indiana Student Employee of the Year recognition in 2012.
Program Director and Professor of Philosophy John Rowan described Rukes as “an exemplar of student success. He engaged in undergraduate research and presented work at two national conferences, one in Phoenix and one in Boston. He epitomizes the Purdue Calumet student who takes advantage of opportunities to become successful.”
According to Rukes, success starts with “getting involved. . .. It helps you differentiate yourself and develop value,” he said.
Rukes added that, now as an alumnus, he plans to stay involved with his alma mater through alumni advisory boards and activities. “I’ve discussed with Professor Rowan establishing an alumni component to the Honors Program,” he said.