Students travel thousands of miles to attend Penn State's graduation

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — In Nigeria, Mfon Inwang got used to putting in long hours to complete the coursework for her master’s degree. She would work 10-hour days at her office in Abuja, and then stay until 10 at night, or later, to use more reliable internet than she had at home. She went into her office on the weekends, too.

Now, Inwang’s dedication and sacrifice has paid off. She is set to graduate on Saturday, Dec. 16, with a master of professional studies in enterprise architecture that she completed online through Penn State World Campus. She’s making the trip from Nigeria to visit the United States for the first time and is one of several Penn State students who are traveling thousands of miles to attend the University’s commencement.

“After two years of hard work, I think I need to rest and give myself a treat,” said Inwang, 43, who enrolled in 2015.

Inwang works as a project manager for Hewlett Packard Enterprise in Nigeria. She said she was looking for a degree that blended technology and management to advance her career, and she chose a degree program online so she didn’t have to quit her job and move somewhere else.

“I did not want to be put in a position after completing a master’s degree that you’re back in the market looking for the job,” Inwang said.

Inwang said she overcame a difficult first semester in which she had to adjust to a style of learning she wasn’t used to. In Nigeria, graded assignments were exams at the end of the semester, and she was taught to use only what came from the lecture, she said. But for the World Campus, she had weekly assignments and was encouraged to think outside the box.

One of her professors saw she was struggling and reached out to her. She said she got an A in that course, and since then, she’s taken two courses per semester.

“Everything that we do in life, usually when you start something it’s always rough,” she said. “You just have to persist and persevere.”

Another World Campus international student, Ana Reich, will travel here for graduation from Guayaquil, Ecuador.

For the past year and a half, Reich has been taking courses full time toward her bachelor’s degree in finance. She said her husband travels for work, and she was able to accompany him while keeping up with her schoolwork.

Reich said she’s looking forward to meeting professors and advisers, and most importantly, experiencing graduation. After that, she hopes to start a small business, and she’s grateful for what Penn State World Campus taught her.

“It was a really good experience because it makes you a determined person, for whatever you want to do,” she said.

Visit the Penn State World Campus for more information about learning online.

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Last Updated December 15, 2017