Graduates turn to online learning to fulfill promises, complete degrees

May 02, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — When Taylor Stevens decided to finish her bachelor’s degree, she was fulfilling a promise she made to her family. For Tiffany Abramson, her decision was about not living life with regret.

Abramson and Stevens both turned to Penn State World Campus, and they will share their experiences at the Penn State World Campus Graduation Celebration on Friday, May 3, an event for graduating students and their families at the Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center. They will graduate Saturday as part of the University’s spring commencement ceremonies.

Their speeches will be streamed through Facebook Live starting about 6:30 p.m.

Stevens said she promised her late mother and sister — both of whom died from breast cancer — that she would graduate.

“My mother passed when I was 13 years old, and in her final days she told my dad that she wanted to make sure I went to college. That was her last request,” she said. “My oldest sister supported me the whole time I was in school the first time and when she told me she had breast cancer, she wanted me to figure out a way to go back to school.

“I wanted to make her proud and my family proud for going back to school and graduating.”

Stevens, 26, will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in integrated social sciences. The New Jersey native attended Penn State for three years, leaving the University Park campus during her senior year due to financial reasons. She joined the Army in 2016, served in an Airborne infantry unit as the first female line medic in the battalion’s history, and is now stationed at Fort Hood in Texas. 

Although her journey to her degree took a few unexpected turns, Stevens said she always knew she would come back to Penn State.

“Penn State is the best school for me; I was always going to finish at Penn State no matter what,” she said. “Finishing makes me feel amazing because there was a point I wasn’t sure it was going to work out. I feel like my mom and sister would be proud.”

For Abramson, she started at another university before stopping, getting married, and having three kids. She said a casual conversation with a current co-worker made her realize she didn’t want to look back at her life and regret not finishing school.

“The need for change became apparent,” said Abramson, 38, who works at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. “I would see my friends with degrees advancing their careers and part of me always wanted that. I knew going back to school would give me the confidence and credentials I needed to further my own career, so I took a leap of faith and signed up for two classes.”

In 2016, Abramson, who will graduate with her bachelor’s degree in health policy and administration, decided to enroll at Penn State, first at the Harrisburg campus before transitioning to World Campus.

Abramson said the online learning environment best suited her life: She balanced her coursework with work and caring for her three elementary-school age children while going through a divorce.

“When I was in single-mom mode, I was rediscovering myself from getting out of my marriage,” she said. “I had a drive that was awakened in me that fueled my desire to get things done. I have three little kids watching my every move. I needed to complete this for myself and give them that example.”

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

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated July 12, 2021