UNIVERSITY PARK — Penn State World Campus student Fernando Ribeiro will fly 5,000 miles from Brazil so he can walk across the stage at Bryce Jordan Center on Aug. 16 and receive his bachelor’s degree in psychology.
While completing his Penn State online degree, Ribeiro balanced a busy work schedule and family life. He ran his own executive coaching business in Sao Paulo, taught at a local business school and raised two children with his wife. That’s why being at Penn State for graduation is so important, he said.
“Traveling to State College to accept the degree is, to me, the culmination of hard work and dedication as well as a moment to give back to my family for all the support I have received,” said Ribeiro, who will make the trip from Sao Paulo with his family. “No way would I miss the commencement ceremony.”
Ribeiro is among the nearly 120 World Campus students traveling from across the globe to State College for Penn State’s summer graduation. World Campus will honor them during a ceremony Aug. 15 at the Jordan Center.
Penn State will confer degrees to more than 600 World Campus students on Aug. 16. Graduates hail from across the United States and countries including China, Mexico, Turkey, Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates.
Ribeiro said the psychology training gave him insight into the fundamentals of coaching that he can apply immediately in his work at his executive coaching company, Phercoh.
He also praised his interactions with faculty, who he said were easily accessible by email and communicated with him through online video conferencing, such as Skype.
“This creates a bond and proximity I never thought would be possible,” he said, recalling one online chat with an instructor as late as 10 p.m. “The experience was just like having a professor at a university where I could knock on her door. She would sit with me in my virtual realm and help me out.”
After graduation, Ribeiro plans to pursue a doctorate in clinical psychology or organizational leadership, preferably at a university in the United States.
Another student who will travel here for graduation is Naby Baig, a child protective investigations supervisor in Broward County, Florida. She will receive a master of public administration.
During her studies, Baig served as secretary of the Penn State World Campus Blue and White Society, and that led to one of her most memorable student experiences. She visited Penn State in December 2013 to participate in a panel discussion about online learning.
She said she formed lasting friendships with fellow World Campus students during that trip, and one of them is coming from Baltimore to celebrate graduation with her.
“We formed such a great connection,” said Baig, who is exploring Ph.D. programs. “You can still have that familiar, personal touch you would get at school.”
Student Hector Cruz-Rosa will travel from San Juan, Puerto Rico, to receive his master of finance. He sought the degree to gain skills he could immediately apply in daily decision-making in his job as a pharmaceutical business unit leader with the Alcon Division of Novartis.
“In my case, a degree in finance provides me with the additional knowledge and skills that make it possible for me to speak the same language as our corporate senior management, who ultimately approve our proposals,” Cruz-Rosa said. “Being able to link key accounting and financial principles as well as apply company valuation topics and skill-building exercises really prepares me to better lead the kind of business I am responsible to grow.”