As we take the time to reflect upon what we're most thankful for this holiday season, I am filled with gratitude whenever I get the chance to witness something truly remarkable. Earlier this month, I was fortunate enough to attend Penn Foster's Scranton-based graduation and student meet-up event, orchestrated for 60 students and their 200+ family and friends. Our students have overcome some of the toughest obstacles and have faced myriad hardships throughout their lifetimes - yet have defied the odds and persevered in order to gain their education. Seeing the joy, the tears, the proud families and friends standing by as each of our graduates walked across the stage fills me with a sense of utter gratitude to have the privilege of being a small part of something meaningful.

To summarize the event, I am not sure where you start after such a wonderful moment of both inspiring students, and a proud, passionate team representing all departments.

As for the students " they all marked this occasion with pride, including our Graduate of the Year, Erin Snyder Dixon (after meeting her and hearing her inspiring story, it's clear why this special lady was selected by her peers). I personally met with students that literally DROVE to Scranton from Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Mississippi, North Carolina, New York, Louisiana, and even Florida (20 hours with two kids.) This was a life changing moment and these are the days when our rhetoric on "leveling the field of opportunity" and the "promise of enhanced employability" happens in real-time at ground zero of our student life transformation machine!

2015 Penn Foster Meetup 1In the end, the best part of days like these are  that countless folks get to celebrate the success of our Penn Foster graduates, and watch them walk across the stage with diploma in hand and earn the recognition of achievement. This happened for over 60 graduates, and we even had remote access with a live streaming audience.

It is hard to know all the effects a day like graduation day has on people, families and communities. However, what I do know for certain is that Penn Foster has helped bring to life the ideals that "the best way to predict a future is invest in yourself." This is the most enduring outcome for each student - enhanced life optionality - and I am encouraged (and proud) that we get to make this happen countless times each week, month and year. It felt like our culture blossomed just a little more that weekend, and the collective leadership and positive energy radiated throughout these events.

2015 Penn Foster Meetup 2Driving social outcomes such as better employment, economic mobility and higher personal confidence and effectiveness at-scale is a real thing, and Penn Foster absolutely has that level of life and community amplification.

We look forward to continue expanding initiatives, forging new partnerships, and being a part of redefining the educational landscape in America so that every student has the chance to receive an affordable, quality education.  



Recommended for You: Year-End Goal of 25,000 High School Graduates