VALPARAISO | The family and friends of graduates were among the first to be congratulated at the 45th commencement of Purdue North Central.
“Think about how important your family and friends have been,” said PNC Chancellor James Dworkin on Monday, after asking the graduates to stand. “Turn around and try to find them and give them a big round of applause.”
Dworkin then turned the spotlight on the graduates assembled at Valparaiso University’s Athletics-Recreation Center.
“Our ceremony tonight is about you and your successes, so this will be a short speech,” Dworkin said.
More than 50 percent of PNC graduates are the first in their families to earn a college degree, Dworkin said. He encouraged graduates to “be a role model and mentor.”
Dworkin said “each and every” of the 581 graduates was “an inspiration.”
“I could tell 581 stories but we don’t have the time and it’s too hot for that,” Dworkin said. “Some of you have children, most of you have jobs. You have found your academic home at PNC and you have earned a degree that will help secure your future.”
Benjamin Kienzynski III, of Valparaiso, who earned his degree in mechanical engineering technology, said he is going to miss his instructors at PNC.
“The faculty was very helpful,” Kienzynski said. “They helped us with just about anything.”
Kienzynski, who is looking for a job in design, said he is a typical “non-traditional” PNC student with work and family responsibilities.
“I’m 33 now,” said Kienzynski, whose mother, sister, and in-laws were in the audience witnessing his graduation. “I should have done it earlier.”
Rebecca Tucker, who received her degree in organizational leadership, said she has applied to join the Americorps Vista program.
"It’s going to be hard to leave but I’m ready to take the next step,” she said.