World Campus honors two graduates with 2023 Outstanding Alumni Awards

Stacey Gustavson, hold a framed award, stands next to her professor

Stacey Gustavson, left, is one of the recipients of the 2023 Penn State World Campus Outstanding Alumni Awards. She is pictured with Karen Paulson, a faculty member from the College of Education.

Credit: Mike Dawson

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Two Penn State World Campus graduates have been recognized for their contributions in their professions and to society with outstanding alumni awards.

Tim Kluska, a 2018 graduate, and Stacey Gustavson, a 2017 graduate, are the recipients of the 2023 Penn State World Campus Outstanding Alumni Awards.

Kluska graduated with a bachelor of science in finance in 2018, worked in investment management and finance, and is now pursuing an MBA through Harvard Business School. Gustavson graduated with a master of education in higher education in 2017 and works as the interim director of college access at Montgomery College in Maryland.

The awards are sponsored by the Penn State Office of the Vice Provost for Online Education and coordinated through the Office of Development and Alumni Relations for Penn State Outreach and Online Education. The recipients were honored at a ceremony on Thursday, Oct. 26, in State College.

“Tim and Stacey were exceptional students, and their successes have continued into their careers,” said Renata Engel, vice provost for Online Education at Penn State. “Tim continues to advance his career in graduate school after having worked in the finance industry and earning his bachelor’s degree while serving active duty in the Marine Corps. Stacey has received two promotions in her work expanding access to higher education. Tim’s and Stacey’s career achievements make us proud, and they truly are outstanding alumni.”

Outstanding Alumni Award – undergraduate recipient

After graduating, Kluska worked for five years with the investment firm Vanguard, culminating in his role as a senior analyst in investment stewardship and shareholder advocacy. While at Vanguard, he acquired the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation, which required 300 hours of study each for three exams. Kluska left in August to pursue his MBA full time at Harvard Business School.

He said the knowledge he gained from the finance bachelor’s degree program, taught by the faculty from Penn State Behrend, is directly responsible for his career trajectory.

“Professor Eric Robbins and Dr. Greg Filbeck were huge parts of my success, and the Penn State curriculum, which was rigorous and challenging, prepared me for a career at Vanguard and my pursuit of the CFA charter,” Kluska said. “And, because of that foundation that allowed me to succeed in the first part of my career, now I'm here at Harvard Business School. Without the opportunity provided to me by Penn State World Campus, I would not be here.”

Kluska also praised the program’s course that helps students begin preparing for the CFA charter exams.

“I felt I was at a strong level of preparedness thanks to how well the Penn State World Campus finance program prepared me, from both an academic perspective and the awareness of the impact the CFA charter would have on my career,” he said.

Kluska completed the majority of his degree program while serving active duty in the Marine Corps as a utilities engineer. Prior to receiving his bachelor’s in finance, he completed an associate of business in business administration in 2016.

Outstanding Alumni Award – graduate recipient

Stacey Gustavson said earning the higher education master’s degree was a transformative experience for her. She missed a promotion earlier in her career because, at the time, she did not have a master’s degree. Since graduating, she has received two promotions, including the promotion to her current role in which she oversees admissions, enrollment and recruitment.

“Without my experience in the higher education master’s degree program, I would not have had the knowledge, skills and confidence to achieve these promotions,” she said. “As you grow in your career it becomes evident that you need extra validation, extra skills and knowledge. I just knew I needed the extra credential to continue growing in my career.”

The higher education program, which is offered online by the Penn State College of Education, was the “perfect fit” for her. The online program gave her the flexibility to work full time and take the courses when she had the time. She praised the quality of the courses and her professors, who are on the faculty of the College of Education.

“You've got fantastic faculty, and you're progressing in a flexible manner that supports the rest of your life,” she said. “I had the benefit of the great resources of the University, and I got to do it from where I was. It was a great experience.”

Alumni awards

Each year Penn State World Campus recognizes outstanding alumni from among the more than 36,000 all-time graduates. Nominations open each spring.

Nominees must be a graduate of Penn State World Campus, having obtained an associate, bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree.

Past recipients of the Penn State World Campus Outstanding Alumni Awards have been honored for their service in the military, advancements in health care, community, cybersecurity and supply chain management.

Learn more about the alumni awards on the Alumni and Friends website of Penn State World Campus.


Mike Dawson

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