Air Force veteran balances three jobs, two kids en route to Penn State degree

December 12, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Air Force veteran Selina Pedi was working three part-time jobs and trying to find permanent work as she pursued a career in sustainable community development. She also was raising two kids and home schooling one of them when she realized her GI Bill benefits would soon expire.

She then decided to finish her bachelor’s degree online through Penn State World Campus.

“I was trying to further my career, but that’s hard to do without a degree,” said Pedi, 41, who enrolled in 2016. “No one takes you seriously. After many years of frustration, I realized I needed to get my degree, and it needed to be online. Penn State was the place to go.”

After two years, Pedi will graduate on Saturday, Dec. 16, with a bachelor's degree in agribusiness management after completing the degree online through Penn State World Campus. She will be one of the more than 1,000 World Campus students to be awarded their degrees during the University’s fall commencement.

The Emlenton, Venango County, native spent six years in the Air Force as a translator and cultural liaison. She left the military 15 years ago and discovered landscape and building design as a way to de-stress. Her new career path took her to Arizona and Australia before she re-settled in Pennsylvania in 2013. 

Pedi managed a local borough and a construction company, and she helped with bookkeeping and back office management for another company. At the same time, she was raising two kids, ages 6 and 3, and building a farm to create a model for sustainable community development based on small-scale diversified agriculture.

“I heard the word ‘crazy’ from a lot from people,” Pedi said about balancing schoolwork with all of her other responsibilities. “I jump in and do stuff. My military experience helped prepare me for being able to do that, and I’ve just applied that in civilian life and taken it to the extreme.”

Pedi praised her military academic adviser, who is one of several veterans who help active duty and veteran students, for helping provide her with the guidance and direction needed for her to complete her degree.

After graduation, Pedi will begin a master’s degree program in sustainability through Harvard University. She also has traded her three part-time jobs for a position as a program assistant with the Pennsylvania Women’s Agricultural Network, which provides statewide support and outreach to help female farmers in rural and urban areas.

“After the first year in the program, I said ‘I can do this,’ and I’m going to go ahead and get my Ph.D.,” Pedi said. “I want to empower people to make the world around them a little better and focus on my own farm and property, and create it as a way I can teach.”

Visit the Penn State World Campus website for more information.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated July 12, 2021