"Please hold your applause until after all the names have been announced."
Some variation of this instruction is given at nearly every college commencement across the nation before the degree recipients are called up to receive their honors. Reliably, many did not follow this instruction on Sunday in the Elliott Hall of Music as 409 graduate students' names were announced in two separate ceremonies.
After Nnadozie Onunkwo, who was awarded with a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering, heard his name called from the speakers, he heard the cheers of his father, Francis Onunkwo, sitting in the audience.
"I definitely appreciated (my father's cheers) because he supported me throughout the whole process," Nnadozie said. "I feel like it's not only me who has accomplished something – the whole family should feel like they've accomplished this degree."
Francis said he got caught up in the moment and it was instinctive to cheer for his son. "It's something you do without thinking," he said. "Just the excitement makes you scream."
Francis traveled all the way from Maryland with his wife and eldest son to see Nnadozie receive his Ph.D.
"I feel on top of the world for this to happen while I'm alive," Francis said. "It's a great joy to see my son walk across that stage."
Nnadozie has offers from Cook Biotech, which is located in Purdue's Discovery Park, and the Center for Naval Analyses, a government contracting company in Virginia. He echoed his father's excitement after receiving his degree. "It feels unreal because you're so used to always doing schoolwork, in a lab doing your research – it seems like a never-ending thing," he said. "To come to this point where it's all over it's like, 'Wow, I can't believe it's really happening.'"