News release by Purdue University Northwest:

HAMMOND, Ind. — Purdue University Northwest (PNW) fall 2023 graduates may have just had their degrees conferred, but it will not mark the end of impactful lessons for their budding careers.

Work experiences, unexpected upheavals in their personal lives, new relationships and more will all likely be sources of unique learning opportunities that enhance what they gleaned as college students. That was the advice imparted by Indiana state representatives Harold (Hal) Slager and Mike Andrade, who served as keynote speakers during morning and afternoon ceremonies, respectively, at PNW’s fall commencement on Dec. 9 in Hammond, Indiana.

“Whether you realize it or not, you are experiencing the beginning rather than the end,” Slager said. “I have realized a variety of careers — four so far — and uncertainty and change has certainly been my path in life. We are the sum of our experiences, and those experiences along the way have guided me in my decision-making.”

During his keynote, Slager recalled his own career, prior to becoming an elected official, in which he worked as a public accountant, sales representative and real estate investor. Each chapter produced several lessons he kept close. Examples include: do your role well and opportunities will present themselves; never underestimate the power of a smile and simple acts of kindness; and take time to provide undivided attention to people who want to be heard.  Slager says these takeaways influenced his ability to be a state legislator who looks for compromise and respects the exchange of ideas.

“Learning never stops, and it is imperative to seek out alternative viewpoints or you miss the fun stuff,” he advised the graduates. “I am convinced, having worked with many young people in the Statehouse, that your generation can be the next greatest generation if you remember that diversity should include diversity of thought, free speech is not conditional and to make people feel like they are the most important in the world.”

Andrade recounted his first job at age 12 passing out pizza fliers. He remembered his father told him, “son, there will always be someone smarter than you, who has more money than you, and may be more successful, but never let them outwork you.”

“I bring that message to you all,” Andrade told the graduates. “Never let anyone outwork you. Never say I am not good enough or am not qualified for the job. If you do, you let others define your value or your identity.”

Andrade told the audience to celebrate their identities as Purdue Northwest graduates. He said their diverse backgrounds and experiences have allowed them to make tremendous accomplishments in their coursework and around Northwest Indiana.

“In a world where knowledge is power, your education puts you ahead of a vast majority of people,” Andrade said. “PNW has nurtured your potential, challenged you to think critically and equipped you with skills that will allow you to begin to solve our world’s most challenging problems. You are entering a world in need of your talent, ambition and vision. Be the leaders who embrace change and seek the truth.”

Andrade also reminded the graduates the next chapter of their journey does not have to be completed alone; a strong network of PNW alumni is ready to support them.

“Lean on this network, contribute to it and let it amplify your impact,” he said. “I always tell people your network is your ‘networth.’”

PNW’s fall 2023 graduating class includes 694 candidates, with 544 earning baccalaureate degrees and 150 earning master’s degrees.

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Chancellor Medallion Recipients

Seven students received a Chancellor Medallion for earning the highest grade point average in each of PNW’s five academic colleges. Medallions are presented during the commencement ceremonies.

The medallion recipients are:

College of Business

  • Rachel Fleszewski, Cedar Lake, Indiana

College of Engineering and Sciences

  • Iziegbe Eboigbe, Katy, Texas


  • Julian Silva, Valparaiso, Indiana

College of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences

  • Melanie Edmond, Valparaiso, Indiana


  • Angela Grisolano, Valparaiso, Indiana

College of Nursing

  • Ivana Farkic, Mokena, Illinois

College of Technology

  • Patrick Shepard, Wheatfield, Indiana