Penn State World Campus summer graduates celebrate two firsts

Two students who will make their first visit to Penn State to pick up diplomas in energy and sustainability policy also will be the first graduates of this online degree

When Todd Venetz of Loudonville, N.Y., and Amanda Fuller of Lansing, Mich., arrive at Penn State's University Park campus this week, they will be celebrating two milestones. This will be their first visit to Penn State, and they also will be the first to graduate from the bachelor of arts in energy and sustainability policy (ESP) program, offered by the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences and delivered online by Penn State's World Campus.

It took three tries for Venetz, 35, to be admitted to Penn State. His community college grades weren't the best, he admits. But after enlisting in the Marine Corps after Sept. 11 and serving in Iraq, Venetz was determined to complete his college degree — at Penn State. He convinced the Admissions Office to give him a chance. "Penn State took a risk with me, but it paid off," said the married father of three daughters.

Currently a senior computer operator with the New York State Office of Information Technology Services, Venetz' ultimate goal is "to make the world a better place than I found it." This fall, he will continue his education in an environmental health and safety management master’s program at Rochester Institute of Technology.

Fuller, 29, enrolled in community college after high school, completing two years, including a study trip to Japan, but didn't finish. She has worked throughout school with a Medicaid patient advocacy firm and was hoping to cut back on work to concentrate on school. "I grew impatient and started searching for an option that I could work into my life rather than trying to fit the rest of my life into my school schedule." The ESP program was her solution.

"The biggest challenge with learning online was becoming good at managing my time and motivating myself," said Fuller, the married mother of a stepdaughter. "I've been able to balance work, family and school, without getting too stressed out." Next, she hopes to find a job where she can help increase renewable energy development in Michigan.

Penn State World Campus specializes in adult online education, delivering more than 80 of Penn State's most highly regarded graduate, undergraduate and professional education programs through convenient online formats. World Campus is part of Penn State Outreach, which serves more than 5 million people each year, in all 67 Pennsylvania counties, all 50 states and more than 100 countries worldwide.

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Last Updated August 13, 2012