Alumna gained confidence, connection from her Penn State education

Deciding to go back to college can be difficult for working adults for both personal and professional reasons. For Jody Ream, college wasn’t something she really thought could be an option until her early 40s. She had a successful decades-long career in pharmaceuticals, but something was missing and she wanted more.

Ream went from starting college as an adult to earning not only associate and bachelor’s degrees but also a master’s degree. Her education has led to more confidence and opportunities.

Earning a degree

Ream enrolled in classes at a local community college, where she earned an associate degree and boosted her confidence in her academic abilities.

“I realized that I could really do this,” she said.

Jody Ream Courtesy photo

After encouragement from family, friends, and a school guidance counselor, and a testimonial from a coworker, she decided to enroll in 2017 in the Bachelor of Science in Business offered online through Penn State World Campus. The online course delivery allowed Ream to continue her full-time position while also being able to be there for her family. She found she could make it all work — her family life, work, and school.

“I was able to maintain a good life and my education,” she said.

Ream shared her admiration for her professors, many of whom were actively researching and publishing while teaching.

“I felt like they gave me the best I could have with my education,” she said.

She fondly remembers one of her first general education courses, which expanded her horizons and introduced her to a new hobby in stargazing and planetary viewing. She enjoyed learning in all of her courses because they helped her look at the world with a whole new perspective and in a much broader scope than she ever did before.

Ream credits her family, friends, and employer for supporting her throughout her academic journey.

“It takes a village as an adult learner to stay focused and stay on track to work toward completing the end goals,” she said.

Looking to the future

Ream graduated with her bachelor’s in 2021, excited to apply what she learned at Penn State in her work and beyond.

“I felt like I had so much information that I wanted to share,” she said.

Ream continued her Penn State journey and education with the Master of Professional Studies in Organization Development and Change. This graduate program teaches students practical skills to effectively manage and implement change in various work settings.

Ream worked her way up from the floor level to currently working as an active supervisor because she now has the educational qualifications and tools that were needed to advance her career within the pharmaceutical business.

“Penn State showed me the tools to go forward with my career and gave me a step above,” she said.

Ream finished master’s degree in 2023 and holds her graduation day close to her heart.

“How powerful,” she said of seeing so many graduates together. “Whether I was online or not, I was connected and I was a graduate of Penn State.”

After earning her master’s degree, Ream said, she is making a difference and has many new responsibilities. She is currently working in manufacturing and packaging and utilizes the management, organizational leadership, and development skills that she acquired through Penn State. In her current role, she is supervising a crew of approximately 25 people, training, organization team-building, and implementing culture changes.

“I can always apply those tools I learned,” she said.

Ream said she is close to retirement age, but she believes that the best is yet to come.

“When I retire, I will have all of this education and development that I plan to use to give back in one way or another,” she said. “I believe a lot of that stems from the confidence, knowledge, and everything I’ve learned from Penn State.”

A Penn State education online

Penn State World Campus offers a Penn State education online, with a comprehensive selection of more than 200 degrees and certificates.

Learn more about the undergraduate and graduate programs offered online through Penn State World Campus.

Media Contact:
Mike Dawson