Students use online classes to complete degrees, fulfill promises

World Campus graduation reception brings together non-traditional students who share their inspirational stories.

University Park, Pa. — For Penn State World Campus students like former professional football player Troy Drayton and full-time mom Stephanie Files, graduation is a way to share accomplishments with and honor commitments to friends and family.

Drayton, who played tight end for the Miami Dolphins and St. Louis Rams, is a former Penn State student who completed his bachelor's degree in labor studies and employment relations from The College of the Liberal Arts through the Penn State World Campus and will attend graduation on Saturday, May 17, at Penn State’s University Park campus. Drayton is a former Penn State football player who spent nine years in the National Football League.

Drayton said graduation is one way of keeping a promise to his mother, Stella Drayton, to finish his degree. He sent her his graduation announcement and a tassel last month as a surprise.

"She had asked me to go back to finish my degree for a long time," said Drayton. "We’re best friends, so it was hard to keep this secret from her. I thought it would be the perfect Mother's Day gift. She called me when she got the package and was crying."

Stephanie Files plans to travel to Penn State’s University Park campus for the Penn State World Campus graduation reception. She attended Penn State Mont Alto, but left school after she married and moved with her husband, a member of the U.S. Army Band.

While the couple and their three children recently moved back to the Mont Alto area, her family obligations made attending traditional classes difficult. "I decided that I needed to show my boys that people should finish the projects they start," Files said. "But with a child still at home with me all day, attending classes in a traditional school room wasn't going to work. I really appreciate the opportunity that this kind of non-traditional classroom has given me."

Richard Brungard, a World Campus advising programs coordinator, said there will be approximately 22 graduates and 68 guests at the reception. The ceremony also includes a dinner and guest speakers.

Ken Udas, executive director of World Campus, will be one of the speakers at the reception. Udas said that the staff looks forward to meeting students at the reception.

"I think we often enjoy the receptions as much as the students do," Udas said. "It's a chance for us to finally meet our students. Listening to their successes, as well as their challenges is inspirational."

Penn State World Campus specializes in adult online education, delivering 62 of Penn State's most highly regarded graduate, undergraduate and professional education programs through convenient online formats. Founded in 1998, Penn State World Campus is the University's 25th campus serving more than 7,000 students in all 50 states, in 42 countries, and across six continents. For more information, visit the World Campus online at Penn State World Campus is a part of Penn State Outreach, the largest unified outreach organization in American higher education. Penn State Outreach serves more than 5 million people each year, delivering more than 2,000 programs to people in all 67 Pennsylvania counties, all 50 states and 80 countries worldwide.


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Last Updated March 19, 2009