News release by Purdue University Northwest:

HAMMOND and WESTVILLE, Ind. — Purdue University Northwest (PNW) graduates were urged to uphold the values and freedoms afforded to them as U.S. residents and exhibit service to others as exemplary, participatory civilians in a democracy, during PNW’s spring commencement Saturday, May 6.

Judge Diane Kavadias Schneider delivered those and other important messages as the keynote speaker during the outdoor commencement ceremony. Schneider, now retired after 33 years of service in the courts, became the first female judge of the Civil Division of the Lake Superior Court in 2000. She previously served as court administrator in the Juvenile Division and magistrate in the County Division. She earned her bachelor’s degree in English in 1971 from PNW and her Juris Doctor from the Valparaiso University School of Law in 1982. Judge Schneider was awarded her master’s degree in English during Saturday’s commencement exercises.

Schneider recalled her own career in the Indiana judicial system and role in upholding the rule of law. She challenged PNW’s graduates to join in maintaining their rights and freedoms through civic participation. She remarked that she has observed attacks on civil liberties and freedom of speech, as well as outspoken denials of history and science, are prevalent.

“It now falls to you to continue the important mission of protecting and defending our freedoms,” Schneider said. “Today you become the guardians of democracy and the rule of law. Count your blessings. There is not a day that I do not realize how my life would have been different if I had been born in another place or time. Here in the United States I have enjoyed opportunities and freedoms that people, especially women, do not enjoy in many other countries.”

Schneider additionally urged the graduates to take up service in their community. Quoting former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, she said; “If you are a true professional you will do something outside yourself, something to repair tears in your community — something to make life a little better for people less fortunate than you. One lives not just for oneself but for one’s community.”

Schneider additionally imparted her advice for graduates going forth into the world, noting their careers will not come without challenges or mistakes.

“For me every day was a learning experience,” Schneider said. “You will also learn that failure is sometimes good. I often failed in what I tried to accomplish but that never deterred my resolve to try again. The road to success is not always a straight line.

“Be grateful. Always show gratitude to those who support and assist you. Be proud of your heritage and never forget your roots.”

PNW’s spring 2023 graduating class includes 889 candidates, with 755 earning baccalaureate degrees and 134 earning master’s degrees.

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Chancellor Medallion Recipients

Nine students were presented a Chancellor Medallion during commencement for earning the highest grade point average in each of PNW’s five academic colleges.

The medallion recipients are:

College of Business

  • Colton Dougherty, Schererville, Indiana
  • Riley Gallagher, Bloomington, Indiana
  • Ryan Sues, St. John, Indiana

College of Engineering and Sciences

  • Theodore Mantis, Crown Point, Indiana
  • Elizabeth Pucher, Griffith, Indiana

College of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences

  • Tyler Nimon, Hebron, Indiana
  • Janelle Turner, Hammond, Indiana

College of Nursing

  • Bozana Cucuz, Schererville, Indiana

College of Technology

  • Sharyl Riley, Granger, Indiana