Taking Advantage of Opportunities: Meet PNW Graduate Courtney Blackwell
The supportive culture and community at Purdue University Northwest (PNW) are what Courtney Blackwell, ’21, believes helped contribute to her collegiate success. The English major, with a concentration in teaching, noted the campus atmosphere provided a sense of unity which allowed her to build relationships with fellow students and professors.
“I think overall Purdue Northwest does a great job of building community for students,” said the Whiting native. “The university provides a lot of opportunities for students in a very supportive environment. Whatever your interests, you can find a place where you feel you belong.”
The softball field was one of the places Blackwell felt at home. As a four-year member of the PNW Pride softball team, Blackwell was able to take advantage of the opportunity to pitch for an NCAA Division II school. “It was definitely a big influence in my decision to attend PNW,” says Blackwell. Acceptance into Honors College was also a contributing factor in her decision, as was the proximity to her family, PNW’s reputation and the quality of the teaching program.
An Inspiring Career
Blackwell will be following her two older sisters into the education field. “I’ve had great teachers in my life,” she said. “Just seeing the positive impact my sisters have on their students made me want to do the same. They gave me the inspiration to go into teaching. There’s just something very empowering about teaching and knowing that you’re also giving back to your community,” said Blackwell.
She credits the PNW faculty with making sure she was well prepared for student teaching. “My professors did a great job of providing a balanced education,” Blackwell said. “There were courses not just in English content, but also in education, pedagogy and a lot of field experience before you start student teaching.” It was the field experience that assured her she made the right choice. “Student teaching my last semester let me know I am where I’m meant to be,” she added.
Blackwell was a member of the English Honor Society, a peer mentor in the athletic department and the community service chair for the Student Athlete Advisory Committee. As part of the Honors College, she was able to become a teaching assistant which provided her with additional insight into her course of study. “It was a great way for me to practice what I was eventually going to be doing as a career. It was very helpful on several levels,” said Blackwell.
In Spring 2021, she was awarded the John Friend Leadership Award. The award recognizes the most distinguished student-athlete within the athletic department based on academic success, leadership, community service, humility and strong moral values.
Reflecting back on her time at PNW, Blackwell offered some sage advice. “Don’t be afraid to try different things. Take advantage of any opportunity given to you and enjoy being a college student,” she said. “And be grateful for the opportunity to pursue a college degree and think of how lucky you are that you’re here!”
Blackwell will be starting her master’s degree program in January at the University of Illinois Springfield. She will be studying educational leadership with her eye on becoming a school principal or administrator. While there, she will use her extra year of eligibility to play softball.
Who Inspired You?
Tatiana Sorokina, Assistant Coach, Softball 2018-2020
“She taught me that hard work, doing the right thing and every opportunity you’re given makes an impact on your life and those around you. She was very inspirational.”
Meet the Fall 2021 Graduates
Discover what motivates our remarkable Fall 2021 graduates—and how they Powered Onward through a year unlike any other.