Two adult women overcome challenges to earn Penn State degrees

December 12, 2012

Kim Clayborn and Brandy Withey juggled full-time work and classes at Penn State learning centers and online through the World Campus to earn their associate degrees.

Two adult women took advantage of Penn State Continuing Education learning centers close to home and Penn State's World Campus to achieve their long-held goal of earning a Penn State degree. Kim Clayborn and Brandy Withey will graduate with associate degrees during fall commencement at University Park campus.

Clayborn, of Lewistown, dreamed of earning a Penn State degree, but as one of seven children, knew college was not an option financially. So after high school, she began working in a factory. Now age 48, Clayborn admits she got into trouble with drugs, but she has turned her life around. She chose education as her path to a better life for herself and daughter Tawilia, 13.

"Lifting and pulling heavy boxes got to be too much," said Clayborn of factory work. She applied at the Penn State Lewistown Center, which is close to home. "I made an investment in myself and got accepted," said Clayborn, who has completed an associate degree in Letters, Arts and Sciences. At the Lewistown Center, she helps other adult learners make the transition to college and speaks during learner orientation sessions. Clayborn will next begin a bachelor's degree in rehabilitation and human services at the Lewistown Center "to become a drug and alcohol counselor and help young people."

Withey, 27, of Avis always wanted to attend Penn State, but after high school began working. A certified nurse's aide at ManorCare Health Services in Jersey Shore, where she has worked for nearly eight years, Withey wanted to expand her career options. She started taking general education classes at the Pennsylvania College of Technology. Then in 2010, she enrolled at Penn State Williamsport Center. Withey is the first graduate of Williamsport Center, earning an associate degree in Human Development and Family Studies, with an emphasis on adult development and aging services.

"The Williamsport Center is close to my home and workplace," said Withey, who is engaged to be married. "My degree is a big step in my life." She appreciated the Williamsport Center's small class sizes, personal interaction with instructors and being able to take online classes through the World Campus, which fit her night shift work schedule. Withey next plans to pursue a career in workplace safety coordination or human resources.

Penn State Continuing Education offers a venue for adults to return to the classroom on their own terms. 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. Continuing Education and World Campus are 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.

  • Brandy Withey, left, took classes at Penn State Williamsport Center and Kim Clayborn studied at Penn State Lewistown Center. Both will receive associate degrees Dec. 22.

    IMAGE: Penn State

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated December 18, 2012