Sharese Moye can’t take the big trip to Las Vegas to celebrate graduation as she hoped because of the pandemic. But Moye, a Penn State World Campus student majoring in organizational leadership, said she will still make the most out of graduation day on Saturday, December 19, in her living room in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, with her loved ones. 

“My plan is to watch the ceremony online with my immediate family and then have a big toast on Zoom with friends and family,” Moye said. “It has been a long road, and I am sad that I will not be able to physically attend graduation, but I am grateful to have reached the finish line.”

Moye is one of the 1,495 Penn State World Campus students to graduate during Penn State’s virtual commencement exercises.

Here are some facts and anecdotes about the fall graduates of the Class of 2020.

The big picture

Of the 1,495 students graduating, 1,407 are in a degree program offered online through Penn State World Campus and 88 are students from other Penn State campuses who transferred to World Campus to finish their degrees.

Of those 1,407 students, 706 will receive a graduate degree, another 616 students will receive a bachelor’s degree, and 85 will receive an associate degree.

Our students are in 48 states, the District of Columbia, and 2 U.S. territories.

These grads range in age from 19 to 64.

232 graduates are either active duty, a veteran, a reservist, in the National Guard, or a military spouse. 

102 graduates who are getting their master's degrees have already earned a bachelor's degree at a Penn State campus.

42 students are already Penn State World Campus alumni and are getting another degree online.

Programs and a milestone

Our students are graduating from 90 different degree programs.

One of our newest programs, the Bachelor of Arts in History, will make a little history of its own: The degree program will have its first graduates this semester. The program, which is based in the Penn State College of the Liberal Arts, opened in 2019.

One of those graduates is Justin Golosky, who started at Penn State Worthington in 2013 and re-enrolled in the University through Penn State World Campus in 2019. 

“World Campus is more convenient for me, someone who works full-time,” Golosky said. “The flexibility made it a really positive experience.”

Golosky, who’s most interested in 19th- and 20th-century U.S. and European history, said he would like to pursue a Ph.D. in the field.

Inspiring students

Another student, Ryan DeGrendel, has waited much longer to finally get his degree, which is in security and risk analysis. In fact, he’s waited through three decades, 17 surgeries, and a near-death experience.

He enrolled at World Campus in 2018, but in 2019, DeGrendel had a freak heart attack that was the result of a torn flap in his heart from surgeries after injuries he suffered when playing hockey earlier in life. In the hospital, he seized and coded, medical personnel took more than 90 minutes to revive him, and his heart stopped and started nine times.

He still managed to push through the semester. He made up his work and got a 4.0 GPA.

“The quality of people that I’ve met while attending World Campus is out of this world,” he said. “That’s been the best part — the quality of the people, the maturity level, and the wealth of experience and diversity.”

Chris Woods is an IT major in this fall’s group of grads. Woods went into the workforce after he graduated high school in 2007, with jobs like business analyst, applications specialist, and software engineer.

But he said he felt as though he was hitting a wall advancing because he didn’t have a degree. He started courses in 2013, working full-time while starting a family at the same time. 

He called his degree an immediate confidence booster and a valuable addition to his résumé: “I feel the degree will help solidify my foothold in my career path,” he said.

Congratulations to Sharese, Justin, Ryan, Chris, and all the Penn State World Campus graduates this semester.

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