Penn State World Campus students have opportunities to engage with other Penn Staters both around the world and at resident campuses. One of these opportunities is State of State, an annual conference presented by and focused on Penn Staters. Stephanie Reynolds, a World Campus student from McKeesport, Pennsylvania, and a Student Advisory Board member, will speak at this year’s State of State conference on Saturday, February 3, about the impact that technology has on students — an important topic for online learners. We talked with Stephanie to learn more about the event and get her recommendations for other online students.
What made you decide to apply to speak at State of State?
I heard about [the conference] during our regular World Campus Student Advisory Board meeting. I decided to apply with a “why not?” attitude. I am a senior and wanted to give this a whirl before I graduated.
Can you give us a hint about what you plan to discuss?
I plan to speak about why technology is so important to a Penn State World Campus student, using an actual World Campus student (me!). There is a surprise ending, but you have to hear the presentation to find out.
How does participating in this type of event make you feel connected to your fellow students and Penn State?
I’ve been to the University Park campus a few times as a World Campus student and for other functions, such as the United Association for Labor Education Women’s Summer School. I live minutes away from the Penn State Greater Allegheny campus. In both places, though, I have felt like Valentine Michael Smith in [the book] Stranger in a Strange Land. I look like everyone else, but I need to find a way to fit in. An event like this puts a face to online students that resident students might not see. I hope to be one of the people who helps strengthen the bond between Penn State World Campus and Penn State.
Do you have any organizations or tactics you’d like to recommend to other online students to feel more included and involved in the University?
Yes! First, get on the World Campus Student Center Pride on Canvas. It was just formed last semester, and it gives students an opportunity to know about things going on that [they] can be involved in, like State of State and THON. There are also scholarship announcements and a discussion board. Several virtual clubs and organizations have their own Prides on Canvas; they meet online to talk about the same things that their “on-campus cousins” do.
Anything else you’d like to include?
If it were not for Penn State World Campus, I would not have had the ability to return to school in an academic atmosphere that I understand and at a level that has challenged me for all four years. I don’t think anywhere else would have fit the bill.
If you’d like to watch Stephanie and other students present their speeches, watch the livestream on February 3 at 9:00 a.m.