From New Zealand to University Park: World Campus student attends graduation

Erin Cassidy Hendrick
December 18, 2016

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — This December, Penn State World Campus student and Auckland, New Zealand, native Matt Comb visited the United States on a cross-country tour. His trip took him to 25 states over 10 weeks, but his most important stop was at Penn State University Park for the Fall 2016 Commencement ceremony.

On Dec. 17, Comb received his Master of Professional Studies degree in in Enterprise Architecture (EA) in the College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST), thanks in part to the support he received from the college and Penn State World Campus. “I felt that I had developed a strong bond with my classmates and the faculty at Penn State. The interactive nature of the program meant that I largely felt as though I had completed the program onsite,” he said.

This connection was so impactful that he visited several of his classmates during his trip, including peers in Baltimore and Pittsburgh. “It was one of the big draws of the visit for me,” he said. During his time on the University Park campus, Comb also met with several of his EA program faculty and Nick Jones, executive vice president and provost at Penn State, who earned an undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Auckland in New Zealand.

Before enrolling in the EA program, Comb spent 20 years working in the technology sector for several multi-national companies. Relative to other countries, he said, New Zealand has a smaller economy. Learning how to manage across enterprises of different sizes and interacting with classmates who had careers with larger companies drew him to the EA curriculum. “Getting this personal exposure to scale helped me to understand how I can better engage in the global market,” Comb said.

Penn State World Campus provided a way for Comb to earn his degree without leaving his hometown. With an immersive program of online videos, textbooks, and digital collaboration for group projects, Comb said, “In some ways, I believe [online] learning is more efficient than classroom learning. [Making my own schedule] was especially important if you are a busy professional like me and need to give top priority to your clients.”

Reflecting back on his experience, Comb is thrilled with his time in the Enterprise Architecture program. “It was awesome. It taught me how to handle organizational change in a rapidly evolving business environment,” he said. “Most importantly, I learned the skills I needed develop alignment between strategy, business and technology.”

“I had just finished my first master’s degree and was hesitant to start another one,” he added. “But I knew what I didn’t know and hoped that the EA program would fill gaps in my knowledge. It did much more than that.”

After a journey of nearly 9,000 miles, Comb took a few more steps across the Bryce Jordan Center stage to proudly join the ranks of Penn State alumni. Now a Penn State football fan, his trip around campus gave him a chance to see Beaver Stadium, the Nittany Lion Shrine, and other university landmarks.

“I think [this trip] is really a completion of the journey I have been on,” he said. “It cements me as a Penn State alumnus and strengthens my bond with the University.”

Visit the Penn State World Campus website for more information about online learning.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated December 18, 2016