Q&A: World Campus graduates

Four World Campus alumni and members of its inaugural alumni board chat about their learning experience

The Penn State World Campus Alumni Society recently formed, allowing graduates to connect, and perhaps meet for the first time. Judy Deacon, Andrew Karasik, Carol Snyder and Audree Zimmerman, all members of the inaugural board of directors, share their thoughts on how the World Campus has impacted their lives and careers. Credit: Patrick Mansell / Penn StateCreative Commons

Note: This story originally appeared in AlumnInsider, the Penn State Alumni Association's monthly member e-newsletter.UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Penn State World Campus Alumni Society recently formed, allowing graduates to connect, and perhaps meet for the first time.

Judy Deacon, Andrew Karasik, Carol Snyder and Audree Zimmerman, all members of the inaugural board of directors, share their thoughts on how the World Campus has impacted their lives and careers.

Penn State Alumni Association: What inspired you to pursue a degree through Penn State World Campus, and in what ways did Penn State World Campus help you achieve your educational goals and pursue your passions?

Article related photo.Deacon: When I began to research online education, I had doubts that I would be able to get a first-rate education through an online program, but I knew that Penn State would ensure academic excellence. I became a mother before I finished high school. My children were my priority and I waited until my youngest child was in school to pursue my college degree at age 45. I still had two children at home at the time and wanted to remain available to them and keep my educational costs to a minimum. Penn State World Campus allowed me to do just that. I was able to avoid the extra costs of transportation and room and board. World Campus also allowed me to move from full time to part time as life circumstances affected my availability. (My mother was diagnosed with ALS my third semester and I was able to easily move to part time to become her primary caregiver and back to full time after she passed away). Since attaining my B.A. in psychology, I have secured my dream job, the job that my life experience and my Penn State degree has prepared me for: the coordinator of a bi-county program for pregnant and parenting teens. I provide intensive case management to teens so that they may stay in school and graduate.

Karasik: My involvement with World Campus is unique and rather circuitous. I switched majors halfway through my time at University Park and as a result, my education on campus ended, however I still had general education requirements to complete after my fourth year. Wanting to enter the field as an intern, I moved home to Philadelphia and was able to complete my coursework online. This was an invaluable asset to me as it allowed me to pursue opportunities that would directly further my career, while remaining a student and without having to remain at the University Park campus.

Snyder: I had recently retired and moved to Florida from New Jersey. I had always planned to finish a degree program that I had started in the late 1980s. I learned about World Campus from the advertisements placed inThe Penn Stater magazine (my husband is a Penn State graduate) and thought that the World Campus might be an option to complete the degree requirements needed to earn a bachelor’s degree. The more I looked into and researched the World Campus enrollment and course requirements, I knew Penn State World Campus was perfect for me. When I enrolled at World Campus, I was assigned a very knowledgeable academic adviser who lead me step-by-step through the initial phases of transferring credits I had previously learned at other institutions. I liked that I could work at my own pace, i.e., one course or two courses at a time, depending on what was going on in my life. The more courses I took, the more I could see my goal coming true. In 2012, I graduated and traveled to University Park with family and friends to participate in the commencement ceremony at the Bryce Jordan Center. It was awesome!Zimmerman: I knew I wanted an advanced degree, but I didn’t have enough time given my work schedule to attend a traditional graduate program. I knew I would do an online degree and wanted to do it with a school that had a strong academic program, a name that I could trust, a well-established online program and a strong alumni society. Penn State fulfilled all those requirements. During the course of my study, I worked more than 70 hours a week, at times, and I was still able to finish my graduate degree in a year and a summer semester. That is not something I would have been able to do with a traditional program; there was a real value on being able to work on my academic endeavors on my own schedule.Penn State Alumni Association: How important is it for the Penn State World Campus Alumni Society to be formed, and what is the significance for alumni to have the opportunity to connect through this group?

Deacon: The World Campus Alumni Society is the culmination of the Penn State World Campus experience from student to alumni. As with each of the brick-and-mortar Penn State campuses, the World Campus alumni have an experience that is unique to that campus. The society gives World Campus alumni the opportunity to enhance current World Campus student’s experiences and further the Penn State community engagement.

Karasik: I truly believe that the World Campus Alumni Society is one of the most important alumni societies. Because our students and alumni are scattered literally around the globe, it makes it hard for them to directly connect with Penn State and all that the school and community offers beyond just their education. The World Campus Alumni Society allows us to keep our students and alumni connected to Penn State and creates a community of like-minded individuals who, although being separated by location, can connect and network effectively with their Penn State brethren.Article related photo.Snyder: I think it’s important that World Campus alumni have a society that can connect them to other World Campus alumni and students. World Campus is unique from other campus environments and students have unique goals and demographics. An alumni society that recognizes this uniqueness can support the alumni in relating back to Penn State. As the World Campus grows, so should the alumni support through the World Campus Alumni Society in providing World Campus alumni resources such as professional networking and social events; outreach and engagement through up-to-date communication methods; and mentoring support to current students.Zimmerman: It is extremely important for the Penn State World Campus Alumni Society to be founded because it is important for the World Campus students to know that Penn State deems them important. The group has lots of benefits and is inclusive.Penn State Alumni Association: What advice would you give to someone who's considering enrolling at Penn State World Campus? Deacon: My advice to anyone considering enrollment in the Penn State World Campus would be to compare it to other online programs for academic rigor, consider the vast organizational support and connect with World Campus alumni who have shared the same experience. Article related photo.Karasik: Just go ahead and do it. Nowhere is there such a comprehensive outreach education program that allows students to take courses and be connected to a world-class university like Penn State. Beyond their education, students and alumni are part of an educational family that spans the globe, yet provides personal interaction and introspective experiences. World Campus continues to pave the way for outreach education students around the world and is a beacon for those who wish to learn and grow as learners and members of society.Snyder: Enroll! They will find helpful and knowledgeable personally assigned academic advisers willing to work with them to attain their goals; knowledgeable and professional professors with many years of experience in their field who also are willing to work with you in attaining your goals; up-to-date technology that continues to improve each semester; structured courses that are current in the subject matter; reasonable amount of course work and assignments; interaction with other students in the class through technology; and last, but not least, being part of the Penn State family. The pride you have in telling everyone you are attending or have graduated from Penn State and World Campus never ends. We are … Penn State!Zimmerman: My advice to someone who is considering Penn State World Campus is that they can really get the best bang for their buck—not only are they studying with a school that has a wonderful program, but a school that has a really great name. The brand recognition is not just about future employment opportunities, but also about connecting to other Penn Staters on a fundamental level. There is a sense of community whether you're online or going through the traditional program. It is also an incredibly supportive program. There really are not any closed doors or a second-citizen status for being part of the online program.

Last Updated December 24, 2014