Alayne Fessler was offered a director position at a community college on the condition that she earn a master's degree within three years. Thanks to Penn State's online master's degree in adult education, she was able to accept the offer and still teach full-time.
"Suddenly realizing that I now was going to make the commitment of working full-time and going back to school, I began to feel overwhelmed," she says. "After evaluating several options, it became clear to me that Penn State’s World Campus offered the program that I wanted, with the flexibility I needed to pursue my master's degree."
In her job at a community college Alayne works with adult learners and nontraditional students on a daily basis. Now that she's a student herself, she can easily relate to their concerns.
"It really helps the students to see me in the different light," she says. "They know that at the end of the day I don't just go home and put my feet up; I'm doing homework just as they are."
Just when things seemed to be going smoothly, Alayne was diagnosed with breast cancer. She chose to keep taking courses while undergoing radiation, so she did not have to back out on her commitment to the degree.
"If it wasn't for having an online program, there's no way I would have been able to continue," she says. "I really tried to budget my time; when I felt good, I would log on and try to do as much as I could."
Now, Alayne is cancer-free, graduated and is ready to assume the director role she’s been after for the past three years. She concludes, "My educational experience through the World Campus has changed who I am as a person. I have gained a new confidence in myself that I can achieve what I put my mind to if I am willing to make the commitment."