sealPurdue News

December 15, 2002

Purdue president encourages graduates to give their dreams wings

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University President Martin C. Jischke today (Sunday, 12/15) told new graduates to believe in themselves, never fear failure, work well with others and reach for the stars.

Jischke spoke to approximately 3,000 graduates – 2,172 of whom were undergraduates – during two commencement ceremonies in the Elliott Hall of Music on the West Lafayette campus.

He told graduates there is much to learn from the story of flight. Jischke noted that 32 years ago, astronaut Jerry Ross, who completed his seventh space mission last spring, had occupied a seat in the Elliott Hall of Music with his graduating class.

"You graduates seated here today are about to launch," Jischke said. "Today you are launching new lives, new careers, a future that I believe will go far beyond your greatest expectations. Like Jerry Ross, you are no doubt exhilarated and a little scared. ... But this launch pad for your future is one of the world's greatest universities. You are well prepared."

Jischke encouraged graduates to pursue their dreams and not concede to discouragement. He noted that 100 years ago, people had not yet accomplished controlled, powered flight. It was only 66 years from the time the Wright brothers' plane was airborne that Purdue graduate Neil Armstrong made his giant leap for mankind on the moon.

"Today, we are seeing new possibilities emerge, the significance of which we are poorly equipped to grasp," he said. "Genomics, proteomics and nanotechnology are just a few of the areas that will lead us where no one has gone before."

Jischke told graduates that the history of flight also provides important lessons on how to get your dreams off the ground.

"First, do not be afraid of failure. Failure is part of life," he said. "The Wright brothers failed often. But they never failed to keep trying.

"Second, your greatest accomplishments will come from working with other people. ... We weren't meant to live and work alone. We need to combine our talents, share our successes, encourage and serve one another.

"Third, believe in yourself – even when the whole world says your ideas will never fly.

"And fourth, as you work toward success, make certain your goals are worthy – and then reach for the stars."

Jischke encouraged graduates to embrace the future, despite any international turmoil. He said there is much about which to be optimistic.

"You leave here today on the wings of your dreams," he said. "And the wings of your dreams are education. But your education has not ended. If you want to keep flying, keep learning."

This was the 188th commencement at Purdue.

The student response during the morning ceremony was given by Rukeyser (pronounced Ruk-ey-sha) S. Thompson of Bassfield, Miss. Thompson received a doctorate in chemistry. The student response for the afternoon ceremony was given by Grant R. Lohse of Carmel, Ind. Lohse earned a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering.

The commencement ceremony for students at the Purdue Calumet campus will begin at 6 p.m. Tuesday (12/17) at the Radisson Star Plaza Theatre in Merrillville, Ind. Approximately 640 degrees will be awarded.

Writer: Marydell Forbes, (765) 496-7704,

Source: Martin C. Jischke, (765) 494-9708

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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