Florida student picks up diploma during her first visit to Penn State

May 12, 2010

University Park, Pa. -- When Megan O’Meara Caldwell of St. Petersburg, Fla., arrived at Penn State’s University Park campus for commencement on May 15, it was her first visit to campus. Caldwell completed her bachelor of arts degree in psychology online.

“I’m very excited about the visit and meeting some of my peers,” she said before her trip to the campus. “Penn State’s B.A. in psychology was a perfect fit for me.”

A proposal development specialist with UnitedHealthcare StudentResources, Caldwell is planning to continue her education in Boston University’s Master of Science in Health Communication program.

Caldwell was among the first 28 students to graduate from the online bachelor of arts and bachelor of science degree programs in psychology offered by the College of the Liberal Arts and delivered online through Penn State’s World Campus. While Caldwell opted to pick up her diploma in person, it’s not a requirement for graduating online students.

The graduates are facing a bright future, according to Rich Carlson, associate head and professor of psychology at Penn State.

“There is demand for new psychology graduates, especially in the human services area, which is one area that hasn’t been hit as hard by the recession," Carlson said.

Carlson is the lead faculty member of Penn State’s online psychology programs. The programs’ 2008 launch marked the first time a public university offered bachelor’s degrees in psychology in an online program. Graduates are prepared for jobs in a wide range of social service agencies and treatment facilities.

“Our first graduates of the online programs will be in pretty good shape,” Carlson said. “Many are already employed and are using their new degree to move up within their organizations. I’m proud students are already graduating and that we were able to get the program up to speed so quickly. The online program gives students an opportunity they wouldn’t otherwise have to finish their degrees.”

To celebrate this milestone, the World Campus Psychology Club hosted a reception for graduates and their families on May 15 in Outreach Building at University Park campus. Several members of the graduating class were instrumental in creating this first-of-its kind online student club a year ago, including Debra Mynar of Center Valley, Pa., the club’s president, and Sonia Rodriguez of Philadelphia, vice president.

Mynar received a bachelor of arts degree and next plans to enroll in Penn State’s online Master of Education in Adult Education Program. While a student, Mynar worked full time as the administrator for ISP Office Solutions in Bethlehem, Pa. She chose Penn State’s program because of its “quality and convenience,” she said.

Rodriguez received a bachelor of arts degree and also made her first visit to campus for commencement. She needed the flexibility of online learning to care for her youngest son and work at a mortgage company while completing her degree, she said. She appreciated Penn State’s “great reputation and reasonable rates” and now hopes to find a job working with children and families in communities.

Bellingham, Wash., resident Brian L. Gass received a bachelor of arts degree. He currently is a marine gravity and magnetic technician and travels worldwide installing equipment on oil exploration ships that records the Earth’s gravitational and magnetic field formation. Online learning suited his unusual work schedule, he said.

“I’ve taken tests in Cairo, Barcelona, Italy, Australia, Malta and London. As long as I had Internet access, I was able to do my schoolwork,” he said.

For more information about Penn State’s online psychology programs, visit http://www.worldcampus.psu.edu/BachelorsinPsychology.shtml online.

Penn State World Campus specializes in adult online education, delivering more than 70 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 9,600 students in all 50 states and 62 countries. For more information, visit http://www.worldcampus.psu.edu/ online. Penn State 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 114 countries worldwide.

  • Megan O'Meara Caldwell visited University Park to pick up her bachelor of arts degree in psychology, which she earned online. Her father Ned O'Meara (left) and boyfriend Kenny Diehl joined her to celebrate at the Spring 2010 World Campus Commencement Open House held in Outreach Building.

    IMAGE: Bill Wallace

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated November 18, 2010