Penn State adult learner completes degree after decade gap

University Park, Pa. -- When he was in high school, State College resident Christopher Hillner got involved in theatre and singing and thought that is what he wanted to do as a career. He began his studies at Penn State; then spent two years at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. But Hillner still wasn’t sure what he wanted to do, so he took a break from classes. Four years ago, he moved back to State College and re-enrolled at Penn State, this time pursuing a degree with the potential to offer him greater earning power. More than 10 years after starting college, Hillner will graduate Dec. 19, with an associate degree in information sciences and technology (IST).

“What studying IST did for me is enable me to take technology and bridge the gap between the user and technology,” Hillner said. “Many people in theatre and arts schools don’t get technology training, so they don’t understand how technology can help them.”

Hillner, 31, hopes to combine his knowledge and love of the arts with technology to develop and sell software for studio and theatre audio recordings.

Hillner, currently general manager of Cartridge World in State College, worked full time while taking two courses a semester to complete his degree. He plans to move to New York City in 2010, where he will work with Cartridge World as an outside sales consultant at its Queens store, while developing software for use in the arts.

“I’m really interested in sales. With my degree, I’ll be able to stay in the arts and make enough money to support myself," he said.

He credits his IST courses with helping him gain the expertise he needs for his new career.

“It was really helpful to be able to apply what I learned in class on the job,” Hillner said. He also appreciated the help and encouragement he received from Penn State’s Continuing Education staff members who “kept me on track.”

For information about degree programs for adult learners, visit online.

Penn State Continuing Education offers a venue for adults to return to the classroom. Continuing Education reaches more than 30,000 adult learners annually at Penn State campuses statewide. The unit also serves more than 220,000 Pennsylvania youth each year through summer academic and sport camps and other programs at Penn State campuses. Continuing Education is comprised of Conferences, Continuing Education at all Penn State campuses, Management Development Programs and Services, and Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center. For more information, visit the Web address above. 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 December 16, 2009