IST, Smeal alumnus reflects on his World Campus experience

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Ask Corey Wheeler to describe himself, and he’ll tell you he’s a solutions architect, a business and technology strategist, a future corporate leader, and a proud Penn Stater.

From 2017 to 2020, Wheeler was a full-time undergraduate student in the Penn State College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST), earning a bachelor’s degree in enterprise integration with a minor in security and risk analysis. In the three years that followed, he attended the Penn State Smeal College of Business, where he earned an MBA, a master’s in strategic management and executive leadership, and graduate certificates in business architecture and corporate innovation and entrepreneurship. And he accomplished all of it through Penn State World Campus.

“I’m an adult learner,” Wheeler said. “It has been more than 25 years since I was in high school, but I didn’t let that deter me from completing my undergraduate and graduate degrees.”

Wheeler said that as a working professional, father, and husband, disrupting his life to attend college was not an option. Online learning enabled him to take classes from his home in Southern California to meet his academic goals.

“Through World Campus, I went to school on my own time and prioritized my schedule in a way that worked best for me and not the other way around,” Wheeler said. “Plus, World Campus offered a large selection of programs that I could customize to fit my career aspirations.”

Wheeler researched dozens of online programs and found that Penn State had the best academic and athletic reputation among them.

“I was looking for an online experience that stood for academic quality — a university that was immediately recognizable, steeped in tradition and excellence,” he said. “I wanted to be challenged with a rigorous program taught by actual professors and industry professionals. Most importantly, I needed a university that I’d be proud to call home every time I visited campus or saw my team play on TV. I got all that and much more with Penn State.”

Wheeler received his bachelor’s degree in 2020 and immediately began his graduate education. At the same time, he accepted a position as a solutions architect for NVIDIA Corporation, building supercomputing clusters for government customers.

“Employers like NVIDIA recognize the quality of Penn State’s IST graduates,” he said. “I believe my courses, student engagement activities, and experiences at Penn State played a major role in my landing the position.”

From across the country, Wheeler made the most of his Penn State experience. He participated in the World Campus Student Advisory Board on the Student Engagement Committee, was a World Campus Student Ambassador, and worked as a Smart Track mentor for adult learners. He was also a member of the Student Government Exploratory Committee, which resulted in the formation of the World Campus Student Government Association in 2019. Since 2020, Wheeler has been an active board member of the Penn State Alumni Association’s Orange County, California, Chapter.

And, Wheeler said, he is not done yet.

“Penn State creates leaders who can see what’s possible and understand how best to take advantage of opportunities,” he said. “My six-year Penn State educational journey has changed my life in fundamental and unique ways. I can’t wait to see what’s next.”