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Purdue graduate speaks at summer commencement

Matthew Pharris turned his dream into reality and was chosen to speak about it.

Posted: Aug 3, 2019 4:19 PM
Updated: Aug 4, 2019 11:50 AM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI)—After nine years at Purdue, graduate Matthew Pharris is calling this year’s summer commencement an end to an era.

"Their very proud. My family is super proud,” said Pharris.

Matthew Pharris never imagined nine years ago that he would be where he is today. Receiving his doctorate in biomedical engineering and a speaker at summer commencement.

"I think if you would of asked Matt Pharris nine years ago when I first came to Purdue's campus,” said Pharris. “I don't think speaking at graduation would've been one of the things I had the chance to do."

Matthew came to Purdue as an undergraduate in 2011. Graduating in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering.

"I think when I first started out at Purdue I was thinking maybe I'd be a doctor one day, go on to medical school,” said Pharris.

He’s from Phoenix, Arizona. Pharris said moving from the desert and big city to West Lafayette was quite an adjustment.

"I think like most students when they come to Purdue you experience a little bit of home sickness,” said Pharris.

Pharris said that once he figured out what he wanted for himself. Finding people that were able to help was a bit difficult.

"Once you recognize that you need mentorship or you need a support system beyond just what you can form for yourself, it's finding those individuals who can be your mentors,” said Pharris.

Although Pharris said he was able to overcome that obstacle.

"You learn over time and you account for some of the hardship you have,” said Pharris. “And I think I certainly did that."

That's why he was asked to speak at summer commencement.

"They called me out of blue and said oh, hey, Matt you know we're looking for somebody to speak for graduation,” said Pharris. “We know that you a perspective of undergraduate life, graduate student life."

He said sometimes you just have to go the extra mile to reach your milestone.

"Finding what works for you,” said Pharris. “For me it might not just be making sure you go to class every day. Sometimes you have to do more than just that."

During Pharris’ nine year run on campus, he received numerous awards, as well as served in numerous leadership and teaching capacities. One included serving as chair of the Graduate Student Senate.

Pharris also published three articles during his college career and has presented at nine conferences.

Now that he has graduated he has accepted a position at the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca in Maryland. There he will work as a postdoctoral researcher doing machine learning research to improve the health outcome for diabetes and cardiovascular patients.

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