seal  Purdue News

December 21, 2003

Purdue graduates nearly 3,000 at winter commencement

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue University President Martin C. Jischke today (Sunday, 12/21) told new graduates to "go forth" to their futures with the goal of emphasizing the journey, not the destination.

Jischke spoke to approximately 2,920 graduates, of whom 2,229 were undergraduates, during two commencement ceremonies in Elliott Hall of Music on the West Lafayette campus. This was the university's 191st commencement.

"What you are doing today is starting an incredible journey that will lead to a wonderful destination called the rest of your life," Jischke said. "You are going to face many great opportunities on this journey. You will also have many challenges. I can promise you very little about your future. I can tell you there will be failures. There will be disappointments. But keep working. There will be successes as well. And in the end, it makes little difference how many times we fall. The only thing that really matters is how often – and how fast – we get back up."

Jischke encouraged today's graduates to enjoy the journey and to realize that even though they have the desire to get good jobs and make successful careers for themselves, they have more wealth now than they will ever have.

Jischke quoted 1908 Purdue commencement speaker Harvey Wiley, who said, "No matter how successful you are in your careers, what wealth and honor you may acquire, you are richer today than you will ever be in the future. Rockefeller and Carnegie would gladly exchange all their millions for the youth that you possess."

Wiley was one of Purdue's first professors and was the father of the U.S. Pure Food and Drug program. Jischke updated his excerpt from Wiley's speech, putting it in terms today's graduate could more readily relate to.

"Today, I can tell you that Bill Gates and Ted Turner would gladly exchange their billions for the gift that you possess," Jischke said. "You are among the wealthiest people on the face of the Earth. But your fortune is finite. The question before you in this quiet moment before you receive your diplomas is this: How will you now invest your wealth of time through the journey of your life? The choices will all be yours."

Morning graduation included the schools of Agriculture, Engineering, Technology and Veterinary Medicine. Afternoon graduation included the schools of Consumer and Family Sciences, Education, Liberal Arts, Management, Pharmacy, Nursing and Health Sciences; and Science.

Twin brothers Brandon and Brant Cassimere, of Opelousas, La., shared the student responder honors at the morning ceremony. They both graduated with master's degrees in electrical and computer engineering. The brothers also plan to continue their studies at Purdue and earn doctoral degrees in electrical engineering.

Brandon Cassimere said he did not realize when he began his studies that he would not only learn about his chosen career profession but that he also would be transformed as a person.

"We soon learned through time, patience and experience that the academic arena would present many great challenges and formidable obstacles," he said. "However, through patience, dedication, hard work and tenacity, here we are about to embark on a new journey of discovery."

His brother went on to express their gratitude for the opportunity to study and achieve at Purdue and to explain that the experience has drawn them closer to the rest of humanity.

"We came as strangers from many places, walks of life and cultural backgrounds, but we are leaving as family, united with the strong educational background principles that Purdue University has fostered in us. Through this bonding we have come to know that we are all citizens of the world and our true nationality is mankind."

The student responder for the afternoon graduation was Carrie Black of Goshen, Ind. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in computer science and a minor in mathematics. She plans to attend graduate school.

She reminded fellow graduates that the more lasting accomplishments one can achieve in life are not material.

"The permanent things in life are those things that we cannot see," she said. "They are love, truth, justice, sharing, compassion and service. Money isn't permanent, your career at company X isn't permanent, but your attitude and feelings toward others make permanent marks on this world."

Commencement videos for each school will be available to new graduates, their families and friends for one month after graduation. The video costs $25 plus $5 postage and handling. Order forms are available from the Loeb Playhouse box office or by calling (765) 494-3933.

The Purdue University Calumet campus commencement took place on Tuesday (12/16).

Writer: Reni Winter, (765) 496-3133,

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

Brant Cassimere, (765) 464-8654,

Brandon Cassimere, (765) 464-86544,

Carrie Black, (765) 743-9565, (765) 532-6251 (c),

Melinda Gardner, assistant registrar, (765) 494-8219,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

Related Web site:
Office of the Registrar

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