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Purdue Calumet holds commencement for fall semester

uNorris Swilley receiving BS Mechanical Engineering Technology looks over program before commencement ceremony The Civic Center Hammond December 17 2013.

uNorris Swilley, receiving a BS in Mechanical Engineering Technology looks over the program before the commencement ceremony at The Civic Center in Hammond on December 17, 2013. | Jim Karczewski\For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: January 19, 2014 12:07PM



HAMMOND — There were Christmas lights, sequins and tinsel scattered around the Hammond Civic Center. And that was just on the mortarboards.

More than 485 Purdue University Calumet graduates, from an overall class of 907, crossed the stage to receive their degrees and switched their tassels to the left side on Tuesday afternoon.

It was the largest contingent of fall graduates in Purdue Calumet history, with graduates earning 122 masters, 754 baccalaureate and 31 associate degrees.

U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky addressed the graduates, admitting this was the first time he’d been asked to speak at a commencement.

“I’ve been to two commencement ceremonies, but I do not recall the speakers or what they said — so I understand my role,” Visclosky said.

Visclosky urged the students to stay in Northwest Indiana after graduation.

“Use your talents to make this region better,” Visclosky said. “Live a life of consequence and find something to give back to make the world a better place. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. Trust that you are your strongest representative.”

Nervous and excited chatter filled the basement hallways, which were jammed with students and faculty prior to the start of the ceremony.

McNair Scholars Clameirdre Prince and Ryan Ordonez-Haggard posed for a photo while lining up for the procession.

Prince, a biology graduate from Broadview, Ill., and Ordonez-Haggard, a civil engineering graduate from Gary, experienced a few nerves before the ceremony started.

“Wow, this is it,” Ordonez-Haggard said. “I can’t believe there are no more exams.”

Both students are likely headed to graduate school, with Ordonez-Haggard planning to juggle a recent job offer with school.

Mahdee Iqbal (accounting) and Carrie Hutton (engineering) received their master’s degrees at the ceremony. They both work at the Hammond Academy of Science and Technology; Iqbal is the school’s business manager and Hutton teaches in the school’s Project Lead The Way program.

The academy “is such a great environment,” Hutton said. “And somehow, we all get along.”

With this class, PUC has awarded to more than 49,000 degrees.



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