Adult learner's 26-year quest results in Penn State online degree

May 02, 2012

Penn State adult learner Shounda Hathaway of Hampton Roads, Va., started her Penn State career at Penn State Altoona in 1986. She transferred to Penn State Harrisburg for her junior year, but financial issues caused her to drop out. It wasn't until 2005 when she learned about Penn State's World Campus that she resumed her studies. In between, Hathaway married and had a son, who was diagnosed with autism. As an online student, she also overcame pneumonia and a mild heart attack. She will graduate on Saturday, May 5.

"A Penn State degree has always been my dream," said Hathaway, who grew up in New Jersey and was a high school cheerleader. "I'm an avid football watcher and fan of the Nittany Lions. Penn State was the only college I applied to."

Hathaway is among the Penn State Continuing Education and World Campus adult learners who will be honored at a Penn State Outreach graduation celebration from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday at The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel. Her son Joshua and other family members will be on hand to help her celebrate.

After putting her education goal on hold, Hathaway resumed her life. When Joshua was diagnosed with autism she focused all of her attention on his needs. Then Hathaway called Penn State's World Campus to ask about online programs. It was a turning point. She realized she could finally achieve her dream of a Penn State degree, while still caring for Joshua, now 18.

"When you have a child with special needs, your schedule can be unpredictable," Hathaway said. "Online learning allowed me to concentrate on my schoolwork when it was convenient for me."

Hathaway exceled at Penn State, earning As, even during a semester in 2009 when she dealt with pneumonia and a mild heart attack.

Hathaway's next goal is to pursue a master's degree in special education. She hopes one day to open her own charter school.

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. Founded in 1998, Penn State World Campus is the University's 25th campus serving more than 16,000 students in all 50 states and around the world. World Campus is 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 115 countries worldwide.

  • Shounda Hathaway earned her bachelor's degree online through Penn State's World Campus.

    IMAGE: Penn State

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated May 03, 2012