Penn State adult learner recognized for overcoming a difficult past

University Park, Pa. -- Juggling family, work and school can be a difficult task, but Penn State adult learner Justina Fisher has stepped up to the challenge.

Fisher, a resident of Lewistown, Pa., has been honored with the 2011 Outstanding Adult Student in Postsecondary Education Award. The award is presented annually by the Pennsylvania Association for Adult Continuing Education (PAACE) and the Continuing Education Association of Pennsylvania (CEA/PA). The award recognizes adult students who have successfully taken on numerous roles and overcome difficult circumstances to meet their goal of higher education.

“Receiving the award was such a proud moment for me, I almost cried at the ceremony,” said Fisher. “I knew that all of my hard work was worth it.”

For personal reasons, Fisher quit high school two months before the end of her junior year. At age 19 she found herself pregnant. After raising three kids, her 21-year marriage ended in divorce. She credits a love of reading as her reason for pursuing her GED. She later re-married and started a new life with her husband George.

Fisher had always thought about going back to school. After receiving a postcard in the mail from the Penn State Learning Center in Lewistown, she felt inspired to enroll in the letters, arts and sciences program at the Learning Center in the fall of 2008.

Fisher appreciates being able to take classes close to home. She also said the small classes and personal atmosphere the center offers has built up her self-esteem. She is a member of the Student Advisory Committee, where she acts as a liaison between the students and faculty members at the center. The committee has also started a peer-mentoring program and is working to get students more involved in the community through service projects like food and blood drives.

Fisher credits her husband, who is also an adult learner, with giving her the support to go back to school. She hopes to set an example for other adult learners that it is possible to overcome a tough past and accomplish any goal.

After completing her associate degree in the spring of 2012, Fisher plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in rehabilitation and human services to become a therapist and work with troubled children.

For more information about Penn State Learning Center opportunities for adult learners, check out online. The Learning Center in Lewistown is located at 152 E. Market St., Suite 100; phone: 717-248-9618.

Penn State Continuing Education offers a venue for adults to return to the classroom by reaching more than 30,000 adult learners annually at Penn State campuses statewide. Continuing Education 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 114 countries worldwide.

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Last Updated April 19, 2011