Unexpected experience pays dividends for PUC graduate

2013-06-26T00:00:00Z Unexpected experience pays dividends for PUC graduateBy Times Staff nwitimes.com
June 26, 2013 12:00 am  • 

HAMMOND | It’s been said that one college class can change a person’s life, and that certainly seems true  for Purdue University Calumet spring graduate Andrew Jackura.

“While working on my mechanical engineering degree, I took a physics class from Professor Robert Kramer,” Jackura, 24, said. “I instantly knew that I wanted to pursue physics; this class was fascinating to me.”

But since he was so close to completing his mechanical engineering baccalaureate degree, the Highland resident continued in that curriculum, earning his degree in 2011.

But Jackura was not yet ready to close his book bag and leave campus. In fact, he remained at PUC two more years to earn a degree in physics.

Unwavering in his new-found interest, he now plans to pursue a Ph.D. in theoretical nuclear physics beginning this fall at Indiana University.

Initially, Academic Advisor William Baginski saw Jackura as an average student who would impress him by excelling at each academic challenge he faced.

“I wasn’t sure how Andrew would handle the rigors of the mechanical engineering program, but as he progressed, his thirst for knowledge grew,” Baginski said. “He continued to excel at a high level, and his interests expanded. Along the way of earning a degree in mechanical engineering, he developed an appetite for the science that supports all engineering: physics.”

Though accepted out of high school to Purdue’s West Lafayette campus, the 2007 Highland High graduate chose to attend PUC so he could continue working at his full-time job and remain near his family.

“I really didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do (academically), but I knew it was in engineering,” he said of his application to PUC. “And this campus has much smaller classes, which allow students to become more familiar with their professors.”

His PUC education offered experiential learning opportunities at the Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont, Ill. and as an instructor in the campus Physics Lab.

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