For Michael Robinson, the journey to receive a Penn State degree was a long one -- in terms of more than just miles.
A resident of Great Falls, Montana, Robinson traveled to University Park this past weekend to participate in undergraduate commencement activities. Robinson, who pursued bachelor’s degrees in nursing and psychology through Penn State World Campus, graduated with highest distinction (in the top 2 percent of his graduating class).
Robinson, who works full-time as a registered nurse for Benefis Health System, a large medical center in north-central Montana, received an associate degree in nursing from Darton State College in Albany, Georgia (his hometown). He knew there would be “numerous” advantages to continuing on for his bachelor’s degree.
“From increased marketability, to opportunities to move into management, to the ability to pursue graduate study leading to advanced practice roles, the decision to finish my bachelor’s degree was a no-brainer,” he said. “More fundamentally, it provided me with a sense of pride and accomplishment, something you can’t put a price tag on. No one can ever take that away from you.”
Previously employed in the chemical industry, Robinson found himself at a crossroads when his position was eliminated during the economic downturn in 2008. With a strong scientific bent and interest in the medical field, he used the opportunity to “take the plunge” and apply to nursing school.
“I had already been studying the sciences and had most of the prerequisites, so I figured it was as good a time as any to shift gears,” he said.
After completing his associate degree and receiving his RN license, Robinson worked for several years before researching online programs to complete his bachelor’s degree. He found a wide array from which to choose.
“I decided on Penn State because of its dedication to being a leader in distance education and its reputation for academic excellence,” he said. “Everything about the World Campus gave me the impression that Penn State cares about its adult learners. And I can say with full confidence that the academic standards to which I was held were the same as those for students on campus.”
It was also important to Robinson to have a degree from a university with a national reputation.
“I’m from Georgia and I’ve lived in Montana for a few years,” he said. “I have a propensity to uproot from time to time and explore different places. Given that, I wanted a degree that would be well received anywhere. As a member of the Big Ten and Association of American Universities, Penn State has a reputation as an academic and research powerhouse that extends far beyond its geographic footprint.”