A persistent pursuit of ambitions

Taking control of education allows PPHS grad to realize his Purdue legacy

Colten Lewis was searching for something different when he enrolled in Purdue Polytechnic High School. Learning that he’d be part of the inaugural graduating class further solidified that he made the right choice.

“I’ve always really liked Purdue,” Lewis says. “I’ve been a Boilermaker since I could remember. So, when I heard there was a new high school with the Purdue name, I decided to give it a try. I’ve loved every minute.”

The self-directed learning model allowed Lewis to take control of his education and explore topics that aligned with his interests. Previously, he’d felt confined by the traditional classroom where rigid lesson plans dictated more constricted coursework.

“At Purdue Polytechnic High School, I’ve been able to focus on my passions while furthering my education in pursuit of my ambitions,” Lewis says. “That experience has developed me into the person I am today.”

The key thing with project-based learning is you’re constantly aspiring to improve.

Colten Lewis

With 49 graduating seniors accepted at Purdue University this fall, PPHS has realized its mission to create a pipeline to Purdue through student-focused, STEM-centered education. Another opportunity that prepared Lewis for college life was participation in the Purdue Summer Experience, a five-week educational immersion program where PPHS students lived on campus and took college courses for credit.

“The Purdue Summer Experience was amazing,” Lewis says. “It really showed me what college was going to be like. Living on campus helped me feel better prepared. Now I know what to expect.”

The high school’s project-based curriculum helped Lewis develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills, instilling a confidence that he’s capable of tackling the toughest challenges.

“The key thing with project-based learning is that you’re constantly aspiring to improve upon what you’ve done before and you’re relearning things you didn’t know before,” Lewis says. “The process is very fluid. And when you’re not successful, you reiterate through that process. My school taught me that failure is OK, because that’s how you learn what you need to fix.”

The internship program secured him a position in restaurant hospitality, a career he plans to pursue once he’s achieved his more immediate next giant leap — earning a degree in organizational leadership from Purdue.

“These past four years, Purdue has been such a central part of my life,” Lewis says. “To go on to Purdue University and call myself a Boilermaker means that I’m continuing on that legacy of what Purdue has set me up for. I’ve been given so many opportunities. I’m very grateful for that.” 

For more information on student registration, donations or business partnerships, and media requests, contact PPHS Network Office at  info@pphs.purdue.edu.