Penn State Online students make long-distance flights for graduation

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Cindy Chua-Speece, a military spouse living in Australia, and Leo Jenkins of Republic, Washington, are two Penn State World Campus students traveling from far and wide to take part in Penn State’s University Park campus commencement ceremonies. It will be Chua-Speece’s first visit to Penn State and Jenkins’ second visit. They are among more than 700 Penn State Online students graduating this month.

World Campus and Continuing Education graduates also will be honored at a special celebration on May 10. Watch a video of last fall’s graduation celebration at

Chua-Speece earned her bachelor of arts degree in letters, arts and sciences. She chose Penn State, “because it is a well-reputed university and one that supports veterans’ education.” Chua-Speece, who works in the Department of State, said she enjoyed “the flexibility to complete the program anytime, anywhere around the world.” She and her husband Truman, who serves in the U.S. Air Force, have lived in Singapore, the District of Columbia and now Australia. Next, she is considering graduate education at Penn State.

Jenkins enrolled in the World Campus after being laid off in 2008 from his job as a journeyman bricklayer. “I chose the online bachelor of arts degree in law and society, because it was just what I wanted,” said Jenkins, who also is a Republic, Washington, city councilman. “I’m overcome with joy that I’ve gotten this far.” Jenkins, who owns a masonry contracting business, is considering a run for another elected office — county commissioner or clerk — government work or law school. “My Penn State degree gives me lots of options.”

Also graduating is U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Tyson Hyer of Wichita Falls, Texas, who earned a master of applied statistics degree. His responsibilities as an instructor pilot at Sheppard Air Force base will keep him from attending commencement, but Hyer said, “I enjoyed the program.” He spent weekends doing course work, including a capstone project involving his role with the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training program. Hyer studied the effects of changes to pilot training. “While it’s not official, I have given my research results to my squadron commander,” added Hyer, the married father of three children.


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Last Updated May 07, 2014