Spring 2024 Commencement Student Responder: Education’s Paige Fulkerson

A Boilermaker Educator will be one of the student responders for one of Purdue’s eight Class of 2024 commencement ceremonies in May.

Paige Fulkerson smiling
Paige Fulkerson

Paige Fulkerson of Carmel, Indiana, will receive a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education degree with a Global Studies minor. She will address Commencement attendees at the Friday, May 10, Division II ceremony in Elliott Hall of Music at 2:30 p.m.

She was surprised to be nominated as a Commencement student responder. “It’s an incredible honor and I am so excited, but I did not see it coming at all,” she said. She plans to speak on how friendships and people on campus have been the things that defined her Purdue experience.

Why did she choose to become a teacher?

“I originally wanted to become a teacher because of how incredibly kind and life changing my second grade teacher was,” Fulkerson said. “I always felt like the opportunities were endless in her classroom and I always felt showered with an unconditional love that I want to show my future students.”

Why did she choose to study at Purdue’s College of Education?

“I knew I would be able to get into the classroom right away, and having field placements every semester in varying grade levels has been the best part of my classes,” she said.

Two Study Abroad experiences

Another reason Fulkerson chose Purdue’s College of Education was for the opportunity to study abroad and earn a Global Studies minor. She studied abroad twice: first, in a Youth in Development in Morocco program for Maymester 2022; and then in the Netherlands at Leiden University’s Faculty of Humanities for the Spring 2023 semester. “They were both extremely formative experiences and have taught me that I love intercultural learning,” she said.

Paige Fulkerson riding a camel in a sandy area in Morocco
Paige Fulkerson overlooking a beautiful river in Leiden.

Paige in Morocco (l), and in Leiden, The Netherlands (r)

Student Teaching

During the 2024 Spring semester, Fulkerson student taught first grade at West Lafayette Elementary School. “Now being older and having more teaching experience, I am reminded of how rewarding it is to believe in one of your students and see that begin to positively impact their sense of self and confidence in understanding the world around them,” she said. “I hope I can inspire my students to be the best versions of themselves and to make a positive impact on the world in whichever way they choose.”

Advice for students

Fulkerson shared this advice for students coming after her:

  • “For prospective students, I want to convey how much the Purdue College of Education cares about preparing you to be an incredible teacher. You will be challenged in so many ways, but you are also going to create so many valuable connections with your peers in the College of Education, with different mentoring teachers, with incredible professors and faculty and so many students!” 
  • “For current students, I want to remind you that there is so much good in what you are doing. Even as a student teacher you are making such a positive impact in your students’ lives and I hope you continue to put in the work for all of the kids that deserve the high quality education that I know you are going to give them.”

After graduation

Fulkerson will continue her interest in living abroad by serving with the Peace Corps. “I am absolutely thrilled to be joining the Peace Corps,” she said. “I depart in August to teach English in Cambodia.”

Thankfulness and impact

She is grateful for all of the support she has received from the College of Education. “I have learned from so many incredibly passionate professors and mentor teachers who have continued to remind me why I am choosing a career in Education and how much our world needs great teachers.”

Wherever she goes, she knows that she and other Boilermakers will make a positive difference.

“I am so excited to start my teaching career and know the people I am graduating with are going to make some incredible impacts on the lives of their students,” she said.

Congratulations, Paige, for completing your “small steps” at the Purdue College of Education and taking your #NextGiantLeap!

Source: Paige Fulkerson, pfulkers@purdue.edu

Podcast: Student Voices – Paige Fulkerson’s Study Abroad in The Netherlands  https://education.purdue.edu/study-abroad/