When Emmanuel Chijioke was deciding what major he would pursue, he decided he wanted to work in technology because he “wanted to know how to put things together.” When Chijioke graduated from Purdue University North Central in May, he earned his degree in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Electrical Engineering.
In the days prior to his graduation, he accepted a job offer with NIPSCO as a project engineer.
“I love technology,” he explained. “I don’t just want to know how to put things together, I want to know why they fit together; I want to know the theories, the concepts behind technologies today.”
He admits that at one time he thought about being a medical doctor, but decided that would require too many years of school and be much more stressful for him.
On April 19, Chijioke and his family marked the ninth anniversary of the day they came to the U.S. from Nigeria.
“The transition from Nigeria to the U.S. was a major change in my life,” he admitted. “The weather is different, the houses are different and the way of living and cost of living are different. Most Americans don’t know how good they have it here. Even 24/7 light is not available in Nigeria.”
While it was easy for him to adapt to his new environment, school was a challenge as he had to re-learn most of his English. He grew up learning British English and needed to learn what he termed “the American way.”
He lost most of his thick accent and said that he was “Americanized” within a year. He graduated from Penn High School in Mishawaka.
“My parents are thoroughly proud of me and my accomplishments so far in life, they use me as an example in talking to my siblings,” he teased.
Around the PNC campus he was called Manny and seldom needed to use his last name – he was known to all as Manny.
On campus he worked for Laura Weaver, the coordinator of the PNC Center for Service Learning and Leadership office as a work-study student. Through that job, he got to know students, faculty and staff across campus and was part of countless service-learning, volunteer and community service projects that spanned from working on the Martin Luther King Jr., Day community celebration to helping build the Nancy Dworkin Born Learning Trail.
“Most of my favorite PNC memories have been with Laura and the projects I got to do,” he recalled. “I can say I have enjoyed this campus.”
His relationship with Weaver extended beyond their work projects. “Laura kicked my butt into place when she saw me procrastinating or not getting life done. She gave me reality checks on the real world, making me see things from the right stand point and advising me with school and life.”
He also thanked Dr. Larryl Matthews, professor of Mechanical Engineering noting, “He challenged my brain to think critically since freshman year.”
He noted that “The PNC professors are knowledgeable and you can actually talk to a professor to get help.”
He was a member of the Chi Alpha club and enjoyed working out in the campus fitness room and challenging the campus disc golf course. He held a second job at the Lighthouse Place outlet mall in Michigan City.
As a musician, he plays guitar, drums and keyboard and plays keyboard in church every Sunday. As an active member of Living Way Church in Michigan City and enjoys taking part in the church’s community outreach, aiding people in the community.
“It’s a privilege,” he believes. “I have seen lives changed for the better in a lot of ways.”