Jason Herman being hugged by the Nittany Lion with his parents next to him

Achieving a childhood dream

Jason Herman sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI) from a motorcycle accident approximately a year before enrolling in Great Valley’s MBA program. In this blog post, he reflects on adjusting to graduate school and what Penn State means to him.
By: Jason Herman, MBA

My TBI had me resorting to childhood (dreams). I always wanted to attend Penn State. Growing up, I idolized the concept of going there and being a Nittany Lion. Like most Pennsylvanians, I watched Penn State football religiously.

I started my time at Great Valley in the fall 2020 semester, around a year after my accident. At first, COVID made attending class via Zoom a common occurrence. While some would celebrate this, my initial goal for attending school again, actual in-person attendance, was lost. Once we did conduct in-person classes, adapting to driving at night was a challenge. TBIs are strange; my eyes were always heavy (and were heavy for YEARS), so I was always tired. This also affected my ability to focus on seeing at night. With classes being held from 6 to 9 p.m., that took some adjusting. Obviously, focusing on class was an adjustment as well. Ironically, writing was easy for me. All my previous degrees, military schools, and my prior job at JP Morgan (AML Investigations) had me writing every day, sometimes up to 30 pages a day. Writing and research were the least of my worries.

I remember my first (team) presentation, in which I had to present/speak to a crowd for the first time since my accident. Greatly nervous. I was a senior military leader and was an instructor at the United States Air Force Academy (undergraduate school) for four years, so presenting is a common skill that I HAD. The team presentation went okay, from what memory I have.

I could not have been prouder when I graduated in May. Yes, for attending and graduating my childhood dream school. I think most can connect with me on that. But overcoming a serious TBI to adjust, and even excel academically (3.6 final GPA), despite my setbacks gave me reason to celebrate. Additionally, in my previous degrees I did not have my family attend my graduation ceremonies. With this, my parents attended and helped me bring closure to achieving my childhood dreams.

Jason Herman shaking hands with Carl Woodin at commencement