Air Force friends on Guam to meet at Penn State to earn degrees

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Air Force friends and former next-door neighbors Kate Boyd and Joshua Hanna are looking forward to seeing each other at Penn State’s fall commencement. While living on Guam, both students earned their bachelor’s degrees online through Penn State’s World Campus. When they next meet, it will be during commencement at the University Park campus Dec. 21.

This will be Boyd’s first visit to Penn State to receive her bachelor’s degree in business, management and marketing option. A native of San Luis Obispo, Calif., Boyd; her husband, Air Force Staff Sgt. Jarrett Boyd; and 2-year-old son, August; lived on Guam until moving to Montana last September. Air Force Staff Sgt. Hanna, originally from Bellwood, Pa., currently serves at Andersen Air Force Base on Guam and will receive his bachelor’s degree in law and society. He and his wife, Stephanie, and their infant son, Indiana, will reunite with the Boyds at commencement.

Both students and their families also will participate in the World Campus and Continuing Education Graduation Celebration from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 20, at the Nittany Lion Inn.

For Boyd, who took college courses at two California universities before moving to Guam in 2009, an online degree was the best way to continue her education. “As a military spouse, I am often forced to exercise flexibility and adaptability in my personal life due to my husband’s career, and Penn State’s World Campus allowed me to do that while also obtaining a quality education,” said Boyd, who now resides in Great Falls, Mont.

Boyd had to adapt to time zone differences for classes, recalling, “Sometimes I would get up at 3 a.m. to meet with other students for group projects.” But she still found online classes “a huge benefit. I didn’t have to worry about missing a class when I traveled to visit family.”

Hanna is an explosive ordnance disposal journeyman with the 36th Civil Engineer Squadron. He was honored as one of 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year in 2013 for his superior performance while deployed and at home station. During a recent Afghanistan deployment, he executed 151 joint combat missions and was responsible for clearing a 15-square-mile area of improvised explosive devices.

Because of the World Campus, Hanna was able to fit education with his challenging Air Force responsibilities. “Once I started taking classes, I immediately noticed an improvement in my writing/communication skills on the job,” said Hanna. He also appreciated the World Campus’ military friendly approach — “everything from working with me and my military tuition assistance, and the World Campus military grant-in-aid all the way to the professors that I had for all of my classes.”

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Last Updated December 16, 2013