More than 1,200 Penn State World Campus students will graduate during the fall 2023 semester. With the final Class of 2023, there are now more than 37,000 all-time Penn State World Campus graduates.
Students will receive their Penn State diplomas and graduate during Penn State’s commencement ceremonies on December 16. Each semester, Penn State World Campus students can attend the commencement ceremony at a campus of their choosing.
The big picture
The fall graduates of the Penn State World Campus Class of 2023 include 1,260 students from 98 of the more than 175 programs offered online.
- 600 students will receive a bachelor’s degree.
- 594 students will receive a master’s degree.
- 66 students will receive an associate degree.
Students hail from 17 different countries and range in age from 19 to 69. The fall Class of 2023 includes 184 graduates with a military affiliation.
Students selected to serve as marshals, speakers
Louis DeCordova, a Bachelor of Science in Energy and Sustainability Policy student, will serve as the student marshal for the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. The student marshal has the highest grade-point average of all students graduating. DeCordova lives in Yokohama, Japan, so he won’t attend the ceremony in person but will be celebrating.
Katrina Dietrich will serve as a student marshal for the second time for her second Penn State degree. Dietrich earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, which is offered online in partnership with the Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing.
After graduating in 2004 with a degree in horticulture, Dietrich changed career paths and earned her registered nurse (RN) diploma. She returned to Penn State to earn her RN to BSN online through Penn State World Campus.
Two World Campus students have been chosen to address their fellow graduates on Saturday, December 16, at an event for graduating students and their families and friends at the Mount Nittany Club in Beaver Stadium.
Braedyn Leake is earning a Master of Professional Studies in Cybersecurity Analytics and Operations. Some of Leake’s family members are Penn State graduates, and she always felt emotional while listening to the Blue Band play the Alma Mater at football games. Now, she will have her first Penn State degree.
“World Campus allowed me to pursue my dream of being a Nittany Lion and continue my professional career in tandem,” she said.
Leake said earning her graduate degree was one of the most difficult things she has done, but the experience is worth the work.
“We are all here today because we stood strong in the face of adversity, like a true Penn Stater,” she said.
Sean Puleo’s academic journey wasn’t linear. Puleo took a few courses while serving overseas as a sergeant in the United States Marine Corps. Years later, Puleo decided to go back to school after supporting his wife, Cassie, through her college experience.
“It dawned upon me that being older, college education wasn’t as intimidating as it was in my younger years,” he said.
Puleo completed course work for a Bachelor of Science in Organizational Leadership degree while working 50 hours a week, taking 12–15 credits a semester and raising their young son, Cooper. It was Cassie’s turn to push and support him through his academic journey.
“What we view as a success is subjective to each of us,” he said. “Don’t let others determine your value, or what your successes should be.”
Artificial intelligence program sees first graduates
Two professional engineers will be the first to earn a Master of Professional Studies in Artificial Intelligence online through Penn State World Campus.
The degree is offered exclusively online through Penn State World Campus by the Penn State Great Valley School of Graduate Professional Studies.
Balsam Hindi and Jasper Short said they enrolled in the program to learn more about AI to apply it to their jobs, and they are graduating having acquired new skills in large language models, reinforcement learning, AI ethics, data visualization, and more.
“The company I currently work for has started a massive AI initiative, and AI is being sprinkled into everything to improve them, even things that do not necessarily have an AI–specific department or product,” said Hindi, a software engineer at a cloud-based software company. “Now I feel like I have a much better understanding of how to implement and apply AI. This is a very well-rounded program.”
25 years of education online
Penn State World Campus celebrated its 25th anniversary throughout 2023. Program offerings have evolved from the first course in turfgrass management to a comprehensive selection of degree and certificate programs in business, health, technology, education, liberal arts, and more.
Congratulations to the Class of 2023!