Meet Amanda Fuller: The first graduate of the Online Energy and Sustainability Policy degree program

Photo Info

Amanda Fuller (background) enjoys balancing work and life, as evidenced by stepdaughter Kathryn’s smile
Amanda Fuller (background) enjoys balancing work and life, as evidenced by stepdaughter Kathryn’s smile.
December 12, 2012

Amanda (“Mandy”) Fuller, working wife and mother of one, resides in Lansing, MI. As an 18-year-old, she was accepted at the University of Hawaii, where she planned to study pre-medicine. However, Mandy abandoned the plan, realizing that a future in medicine was not her dream, in spite of the allure of a tropical paradise.

She set her focus on a political science curriculum at Lansing Community College. “My interest in social science led to a nine-month work-study opportunity in Japan. I knew no Japanese, and knew nothing of their culture and customs. It was a personal growth experience; I learned to embrace a global perspective.”

Upon her return from studying abroad, Mandy decided to look for possible routes to a Bachelor of Arts degree. The obvious choice was Michigan State, but “they do not cater to adult learners,” so Mandy started the search for an online program that would offer the kind of flexibility she needed “in a marketable program that would interest me.”

She decided to look at programs at Big Ten universities, and found Penn State, EMS and ESP— Energy and Sustainability Policy—delivered online by World Campus in collaboration with the John A. Dutton e-Education Institute and the John and Willie Leone Family Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering. “Here was something I knew I would actually enjoy learning about and finding a career in.”

Mandy says she has been made to feel a part of EMS through her academic advisor, Brandi Robinson and senior lecturer, Vera Cole of the John A. Dutton e-Education Institute, who have been “so helpful with feedback and validation” of her hard work.

Mandy’s online education is inspired and fortified by a “wonderful support network”, led by her husband, Ryan. On Saturday, August 11, 2012, Mandy became the very first ESP graduate at Penn State. She even made the dean’s list, managing to balance her studies with raising a family.

An online program tailored for adult learners, ESP is an interdisciplinary program, “preparing students for careers in the evolving policy sector of the energy and sustainability fields.” Entry to the program requires completion of two years of a bachelor’s or associate’s degree. ESP graduates gain knowledge of the global energy industry and sustainability practices, using analytical and communications skills.

With her degree in hand, Mandy plans to remain in her home state of Michigan and become part of the educational momentum in environmental sustainability and renewable energy. She might decide to work with a renewable energy company, and is especially keen on the development of wind energy. “I would like to see Michigan develop this viable resource.”

Had Mandy arrived in town early enough on commencement eve, we would have loved to give her a tour of the Ryan Family Student Center—where she could have logged on in our EMS-student-only computer lab. But most likely, Mandy would have passed by the PCs, opting to spend her time less “virtually”, meeting the people in her College home.

**article by Martha Traverse, EMS Ryan Family Student Center