Transition: The Door is Open

by Web Manager published Feb 08, 2017 12:00 AM, last modified Oct 19, 2020 03:34 PM
by Daren Kullman

Daren Kullman headshot

First let me welcome you to the MPS Psychology of Leadership Program, it truly is the best online educational experience in the world.  You likely clicked on the link because you are inquisitive about the program, seeking success tips, or the program just sounded like something you might excel at.  More than likely you think you’re a good leader, maybe have experience as one, or even see yourself moving to a leadership position. You opened a door.  We often dwell on why we are looking, why we can’t achieve this now, or why we even opened the link.

     Whatever the reason the likelihood is you’re in transition.  Getting ready to change jobs, change positions, change life status, or even change careers.  The reality is you are looking for something to change and to start a journey.  If you’re anything like me, you have fears.  Let’s be honest, I am supposed to be at my careers end.  I retired from 22 years in law enforcement, allowing my wife and I to move to another state to follow her career path.  I don’t have to work, but I want to.  I want to share my abilities in leadership and experiences.  I want something, something fun, something challenging, something where I am valued for my knowledge about leadership.  I like to say, “I’m in transition!”

     Was it the right time when I entered in to the program?  Nope, no sane individual goes back to school at 48 years old.  Nobody transitions to online education when they have never opened a google doc and didn’t know what a voice thread was.  I have two daughters in college and listened to their stories of professors and courses.  I was never a research writer or was good at this student thing.  My undergraduate time was at small SUNY school for Education, the thought of choosing a research oriented school known for a world class achievements caused even more trepidation.  The one thing I held on to was the thought that transitions are never comfortable.

      I sent in my application and low and behold I was among the first 20 in the program.  My initial excitement changed immediately to “what the hell did I do?”  I will say that Penn State is unlike any other online program.  I had a question for the Bursar, I spoke to someone at 8pm, not a recording but actual help!  Every place I called I got a real person, at hours that were on my time.  It might not seem like a lot but to me it meant I had a life line.  I talked to the program staff, technical help, registrar, and even the department chair.  The one thing that amazed me is how helpful they all were.  They even followed up days later to make sure my issue was solved.  At one of the largest universities in the country I was connected.  Even my advisor sent me an email to see how I was transitioning. 

      I opted to take two classes a semester, figuring I would watch a video, answer some questions, take tests and write extensive term papers having little to do with my experience.  Was I ever wrong.  The Psychology of Leadership Program is designed to use your experience, use your thoughts and abilities and enhance them.  To put it succinctly, they put the science behind what we know works and doesn’t in leadership.   My weekly routine is to participate in discussions, explain my beliefs and back them up with research.  There is usually an overview at the beginning and end of each unit, and some sort of team project for each course.

      There is no perfect time for transition.  There is always an easy excuse why one shouldn’t start, why the degree wasn’t necessary, why it didn’t matter.  What I found was that already, even with a semester to go, that doors are opening.  My experiences are better, more meaningful and remarkable considering this is online.  I’ve presented research in a virtual conference, driven a robot on campus to participate in a discussion panel, joined Psychology Club, become a member of the first ever World Campus Student Advisory Board, and have evaluated future leaders from the Schreyer Honors College.  I am lucky enough to have been able to visit University Park and as such have met most of my professors, stood in the student section at a football game with my daughters, and even passed the Nittany Lion as he crowd surfed.  Yet, my most rewarding experience has been the weekly class discussions, reading the experiences of leaders worldwide, and becoming friends with so many of them.  Asking questions, offering advice, interacting, that’s where the real learning is.

      The program is all I could have asked for.  I have learned more than I can give back.  I’ve made friends, and put in plenty of work. In writing the blog each month I hope to help those coming after me.  To give back and in doing so pay it forward.  There is never a perfect time for transition, but it is easier when the door is always open.

Daren Kullman is a May 2017 graduate.