Air Force sergeant earns World Campus certificate while at war in Iraq

June 19, 2003

University Park, Pa. -- Many U.S. troops serving in the war in Iraq spent their limited down time dreaming about the green grass of home. One airman based in northern Iraq, however, was more preoccupied with figuring out how to make that grass greener via a Penn State's distance learning program.

While stationed in Kurdish-controlled territory during the war, U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant Juston D. Losey worked the nightshift in his position as an air transportation specialist. His responsibilities included inspecting air cargo, setting up storage facilities and loading and unloading aircraft during 14-hour long shifts.

About an hour or so before a shift started, and for about an hour or two afterwards, Losey turned on a computer, logged onto the Internet with a portable satellite, and took classes on turfgrass with the Penn State World Campus. The World Campus provides global access to Penn State academic programs in a technology-based learning environment.

"It was a nice escape," said the 26-year-old Losey, who is from Lawrenceville, Pa. "During downtime, we were able to use e-mail and check news and sports. I used my time to send assignments to my Penn State professor, post bulletins and read my lessons."

Losey completed his advanced certificate in the Penn State World Campus turfgrass program while in Iraq, receiving A's in two courses. Now stationed at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, he is working towards his bachelor's degree, with an emphasis on turfgrass.

"I really enjoy the online experience. It's definitely the same, if not better than, residence courses," said Losey of the World Campus. "The best part is being able to thoroughly think through answers during discussions. Everyone has had the 'that's what I should have said' feeling during or just after discussions in a classroom. This doesn't happen online and I think this aspect really enhances the educational experience."

Losey, who became interested in turfgrass after visiting a friend at work on a golf course in Virginia Beach, said he selected the World Campus turfgrass certificate program after researching educational opportunities on the Internet. While remaining "flexible" on career opportunities, Losey said that he would eventually like to own a landscaping and lawn service company.

"Flexibility is the hallmark of online learning in general," said Gary E. Miller, associate vice president for distance education and executive director of the World Campus. "We created the World Campus to ensure flexible access to some of Penn State's best research-based educational programs. This concept may sound kind of abstract, but as Staff Sergeant Losey demonstrates, it is very real to our adult students. For them, learning is a daily part of life."

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated March 19, 2009