Air Force bomb squad veteran to serve as IST student marshal at commencement

Jason Dohn earned his degree online through Penn State World Campus

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — After starting as a Penn State student nearly two decades ago, College of Information Sciences and Technology student marshal Jason Dohn is finally graduating with a bachelor’s degree in information sciences and technology and a minor in security and risk analysis.

Dohn, who will earn his degree online through Penn State World Campus Dec. 15, first enrolled at Penn State New Kensington out of high school. He started taking classes in computer science, but then joined the Air Force following 9/11.

Jason Dohn, an Air Force bomb squad veteran, will serve as the College of Information Sciences and Technology's student marshal during commencement on December 15, 2018. Credit: ProvidedAll Rights Reserved.

“It was one of those things where I was really interested in computer science, but didn’t know if I wanted to write code day after day,” he said. “The Air Force was really interesting, as I knew they would help me find my direction.” 

That direction led him to the Air Force bomb squad. He completed Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) training in Florida, where he was trained to detect and dispose of explosive threats, such as unexploded artillery and weapons of mass destruction. That is also where he met his wife, Kristin, who was an Army soldier in EOD training, as well.

The couple soon married, had one child, and moved to Germany on Dohn’s military orders. He took a few classes with Penn State during an online rolling semester offered by the University, had his second child, then separated from the military and moved back to the United States.

More major life changes soon occurred. He became a stay-at-home dad while Kristin, who had also left the military, worked as a civil engineer. When she lost her job during the recession in 2009, the family moved to Aviano, Italy, where Kristin accepted a government job at an air base. It’s also where their third child was born. Then, the family moved to Okinawa, Japan, where Dohn decided to continue his education and enrolled in Penn State World Campus to study IST.

“A lot of my schooling was while I was a dependent spouse living overseas,” he said. “Challenges were making it to class and team meetings with a 12- or 13-hour time difference.”

However, he quickly learned the value of earning a quality education online.

“Online learning helps with so many agencies and workplaces that allow tele-work,” he said. “Penn State World Campus sets you up for that. The group projects and classroom sessions are all done online, conference-call style. This teaches you to collaborate with people you may never see one-on-one.”

Today, Dohn, a disabled veteran, resides in Montgomery Village, Maryland, and hopes to stay home with his kids for a few more months before seeking a job at a federal agency near Washington, D.C. He is grateful that his wife and children, Jayden (age 15), Carson (12) and Sienna (8), will witness the moment he earns his degree.

“I couldn’t do it without the support of my family,” Dohn said. “I like that my kids have seen me working hard, persevering, and achieving my goals. It teaches them that with hard work, you can accomplish anything. I’m looking forward to them seeing what all that hard work leads up to.”

Visit the Penn State World Campus website for more information about learning online.

Last Updated July 12, 2021