Late Thursday morning as lunch time drew near and students walked around campus during their first week at school, Purdue Northwest was putting on its Welcome Week celebration to bring some fun and festivities to its Hammond campus.
Students could be seen visiting booths, laughing with friends old and new, and enjoying a plethora of activities like combat archery, spinning a prize wheel, snacking on hamburgers and slushies, music, handling exotic animals, and much more. Of course, the different departments and colleges were also represented with their own booths to educate students on what they had to offer, and student organizations also had their own booths to encourage people to get involved on campus.
Kris Falzone, Associate Vice Chancellor for Marketing and Communications at Purdue Northwest, was enthusiastic about the significance of the event for the campus and its sense of shared community.
“This is part of the culmination of Welcome Week for students on both campuses, and it’s an opportunity primarily for students to learn about the resources Purdue Northwest has to offer. All the different departments, colleges, student affairs and student resources have booths so students can learn about how they can get involved on campus and of course its food, fun and lots of giveaways, games and activities for them to enjoy during their first week of classes. It’s a great welcome back to college,” said Falzone.
The Welcome Back was certainly a hit with the students themselves who turned up in droves to eat, chat, and see what Purdue Northwest had to offer them as the morning turned to afternoon. Upwards of a thousand students were estimated to be in attendance for the event.
Student Leadership President, Daquan Williams, was happy to be in attendance as well. Williams started to get involved on campus during one of his first semesters and hasn’t looked back. “I saw some statistics that said that if you get involved in an organization on campus you have around a 95% chance that you are more likely to graduate so I joined student government. I thought it would be a great way to better myself and better the people around me as well,” Williams said.
When it comes to the campus, Williams wants to be very involved. Student government supplied a board for students to write their likes and dislikes about the campus so that they would be aware of why students pick PNW and where things could be improved if necessary.
“I love this event. It’s very social and people get to learn about student organizations. We have over 70 student organizations, we have an array of majors and minors here as well and we’re expanding every year. I’ll go back to my old high school and recommend PNW to students there all the time,” said Williams of his passion for the campus.
Daeviyon Haddox and Alex Kleine, President and Vice-President respectively, of the Gamer’s Guild organization on campus were one such student group present at the day’s event and enthusiastic about promoting their club.
“It’s a really good way for people to find friends and get together, and just relax between classes,” said Kleine about what the Guild has to offer.
“Without this club, I wouldn’t have met some of the close friends that I have now. We’ve had a large influx of people coming in today that are interested; it’s great,” said Haddox of the Gamer’s Guild, which gives people interested in anything from card and video games to Dungeons and Dragons an outlet to find other gamers.
The students weren’t the only ones being welcomed onto campus as various state legislators had also been invited to thank them for their part in securing funding for PNW’s first new academic building in 20 years. The Bio-Science Innovation Building, which they hope to break ground on next year, will serve as the home of the second and third largest majors at PNW, Nursing and Biological Sciences.
The building will have state-of-the-art classrooms and laboratories for students in those majors but all students and majors will be able to take advantage of the space. With high tech, STEM and healthcare opportunities in the job market, Falzone is optimistic about its significance for the area.
“The Nursing and Biological Sciences are feeder departments to the healthcare industry here in Northwest Indiana in a significant way. It will be important to all of Northwest Indiana,” Falzone said of the planned building.
State Senator Frank Mrvan, who was one of the legislators in attendance for his part in securing funding for the new building, said, “Purdue Northwest here is the greatest asset we have in Northwest Indiana. We get the opportunity for people to save money, get an education, it contributes to helping the steel industry, and there’s so much it gives us.”
“They’ve done things for the less economically advantaged and helped a lot of the GI’s when they came home. It’s a great place,” said Senator Mrvan, who has been a longtime supporter of the institution.
For their part in the birth of this new building, lawmakers were assigned a student leader to give them a tour of the festivities on campus and give them the Purdue Northwest campus community welcome. Chancellor, Dr. Thomas L. Keon, was also present to thank the legislators and provide them with a lunch and presentation of some of PNW’s plans for the future; in between walking around the Welcome Week festivities and mingling jovially with the students, of course.
All in all, the event was a hit with students who were laughing, learning and enjoying the summer air on campus with the optimism of a new year back at school starting off right.