When Chanel Rodgers Valentine was granted her bachelor’s degree during the recent Purdue University Northwest commencement ceremony on the Westville Campus, she fulfilled a goal she set many years ago.
Growing up in Ocala, Fla., Valentine and her siblings were raised by a grandmother after their parents passed away. Valentine grew up knowing how much their parents valued education. Plus, having a grandmother who was a teacher meant that getting an education was always a priority in the family.
Valentine is the first of her siblings to graduate from college, earning her degree in Communication. Family members travelled to Westville from Florida to share the moment with her.
During her time as a PNW student, Valentine lived in Westville so that she could be close to class and her job on campus. When she married, her husband joined her in Westville so that she could focus on her goal of graduating in four years. The couple will welcome their first child, a daughter, later this year.
Committed to her studies
As a student, Valentine poured her every effort into her classes to ensure that she got the most out each assignment.
“I worked things out so that I did homework at school during my work breaks. Also, I stayed peaceful, relaxed and talked to my sister Laken Rodgers a lot because she is a character. I prayed with my roommate Felicia Bell and kept God on my side because it wasn’t always easy. I have a husband and soon-to-be daughter who motivate me to achieve my goals.”
When several of her communication classes required that she interview someone working in a career that she may want to pursue, Valentine decided to contact PNW employees working in areas of marketing, media and public relations. This gave her the opportunity to ask questions and get to know her interview subject on a personal level, which led to long-term relationships.
An opportunity to get involved
“I chose PNW because of the countless opportunities to be involved,” said Valentine. “There are so many activities to keep all students interested and active. Purdue Northwest offers many connections to the outside world using job fairs and mock interviews and internships that give graduates a head start in their careers.”
On campus she was part of the Student Support Service TRIO program. She also participated in a focus group that gathered input from students on various aspects of the unification process that formed Purdue University Northwest.
She took part in a classroom service learning project that visited a local Jacobs Ladder Pediatric Rehabilitation Center and helped to create a media kit for Sandcastle homeless shelter in Michigan City.
Valentine and her family also have a personal mission to help feed and care for homeless individuals. Valentine explained that when her grandmother died in 2009, she and her brothers and sisters went to live with their aunt and uncle in Chicago. This meant starting a new high school and acclimating to a new way of life. Along the way, she also experienced bouts of homelessness.
“I didn’t know if I was even going to attend college,” she said. “Going to college and putting my problems behind me helped me grew stronger as I survived all of the rocks thrown in my path. I am so happy that I stayed true to myself and graduated.”
She continued, “I tell my story on how it wasn’t easy to get to where I am today. I encourage others to achieve their goals. If there is a will, there is a way to accomplish your dreams.”
Valentine does not hesitate to credit PNW with helping her to accomplish her dreams, “I had professors who were great teachers and mentors. They were there to help me when needed. Having your professor know your name and communicate with you on many levels is always a plus. I enjoyed every minute with them.
“To anyone contemplating PNW, I say go for it and have fun, you will graduate with great skills.”
Purdue University Northwest
Purdue University Northwest (PNW), a comprehensive regional university within the Purdue University system, has two Northwest Indiana campuses in Hammond and Westville. With more than 15,000 students enrolled last fall and nearly 70 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, Purdue Northwest is Indiana’s fifth largest public university. For more information about PNW, visit www.pnw.edu.