More than 2,200 graduates celebrate their accomplishments at Purdue Global commencement ceremonies

WEST LAFAYETTE – Building a dream and believing it will come true is what Kahil Cole (MBA ’22) believes leads to success, and that was his message to his fellow Purdue Global graduates on Saturday (Oct. 21).

Cole’s keynote address centered on six building blocks – leadership, vision, communication, accountability, consistency, and execution – which he presented to the nearly 1,400 in-person graduates and 850 graduates participating in virtual ceremonies.

A Purdue Global graduate celebrates during an Oct. 21 commencement ceremony. Purdue Global awarded more than 2,200 degrees and certificates across three in-person and two virtual ceremonies on Purdue University’s West Lafayette, Indiana, campus. (Purdue Global photo/Rebecca Robiños) 

“Leadership comes with a price. You often make decisions that impact those closest to you,” Cole said. “Many times you don’t get the opportunity to explain the decisions made, and often you’re misunderstood. Like many graduating today, I enrolled in 10 p.m. Eastern courses to make sure I could support the needs at home.” When talking about accountability with the graduates, Cole shared how he and his daughter, who was working toward a black belt in jujitsu at the same time he was enrolled in classes, would encourage one another to keep going throughout the process.

“When I started school at Purdue Global, she was a yellow belt, basically starting the process. It took us four years, and we both quit three to four times each, but always looked at each other as accountability partners. I often bribed her with fruit snacks and jumpy house outings. She would simply look at me and say, ‘Wait, are you a quitter, Dad?’” Cole said with a laugh. “I’m proud to say that today, as I stand here speaking to you as a fellow Purdue Global alum, my daughter has also qualified to test for her junior black belt.”

Cole also shared about his experience writing books, including two children’s books, and how another one of his building blocks, consistency, helped drive him to finish the task at hand.
“Being consistent is key, and you also need to acknowledge and embrace the vision and dream,” Cole said.

Cole closed his address by encouraging those listening to never stop chasing their dreams, even when events in life might find a way to try to bury those dreams.

“Like many of you, my life has been built on the impossible,” Cole said. “My parents and sister inspired me early on. My childhood friends gave me the belief that I could be great, and my wife and kids let me know that nothing is impossible, on a daily basis. I’ve written books, invested in a startup, mentored young people, and executive-produced movies. My career is a dream come true. Completing my MBA and standing in front of you has been a top highlight for me. You built your dream and achieved it. Now start building your next dream, and show the world that every day, dreams come true.”

The graduates, including 393 Indiana residents, are representative of all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia. Eighteen countries were represented as well, including Aruba, the Bahamas, Canada, China, India, Peru, the Philippines, and Zimbabwe. There were 329 graduates affiliated with the military. Fifty-five systemwide Purdue University employees were among those earning a Purdue Global degree or certificate via the Purdue Global education benefit.

Purdue Global Chancellor Frank Dooley celebrates with a graduate following Purdue Global’s Oct. 21 commencement ceremonies at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. (Purdue Global photo/Rebecca Robiños) 

Charity Thompson, Tawni Miracle, and Matthew Birkett performed the national anthem during the three ceremonies. Thompson, who is from Florence, South Carolina, and earned her Bachelor of Science in health science, performed at the first ceremony. Miracle, of Indianapolis, who earned her Master of Science in psychology, sang in the second ceremony. Birkett, who hails from Odell, Illinois, and earned his Associate of Applied Science in information technology, performed in the third ceremony.

Purdue Global is Purdue’s online university for working adults, with more than 35,000 students enrolled and an estimated 11,000 degrees and certificates awarded each year. The current student snapshot at Purdue Global includes these data points:

  • 59% of students are 30 years of age or older.
  • 40% of students are from underserved populations.
  • 52% of students have a child or other dependents.
  • 50% are first-generation college students.
  • Approximately 10,000 are military-affiliated students, which includes uniformed personnel, veterans, and eligible dependents.

Saturday’s ceremonies marked Purdue Global’s 18th commencement since its formation in 2018.

Purdue Global is an expansion of Purdue’s 21st-century land-grant mission to provide educational access to all people. Purdue Global helps prepare students for what’s next in their lives and careers by offering programs that lead to a degree backed by Purdue University.

The next Purdue Global commencement is scheduled for Feb. 17, 2024, in Irving, Texas.

Information: Adam Bartels,

Sources: Beth Smith, Kahil Cole