Information Sciences and Technology

College of Information Sciences and Technology honors Military Appreciation Week

Credit: FuseAll Rights Reserved.

(Editor’s note: This is the fourth in a series of stories honoring members of the College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST) community during Penn State Military Appreciation Week).  

During Penn State Military Appreciation Week, and every day, the College of Information Sciences and Technology recognizes and honors the members of the IST and larger Penn State community who have served or are currently serving in the military, including current students U.S. Army veteran Vincent Cannady; U.S. Air Force Reserve Cyber Surety Specialist Katie Latter; and U.S. Air Force Reserve Aircraft Fuel Systems Maintainer Senior Airman Jonas Jason.

Service-disabled veteran advocates for a better world

Vincent Cannady, who is pursuing a master of professional studies in cybersecurity analytics and operations through Penn State World Campus, grew up with a strong military background. His father, both grandfathers and several extended family members have served. He counts more than 50 living veterans in his family, and has traced his family in every American military campaign since the Civil War. 

Following suit, Cannady joined the U.S. Army in 1984 at the age of 17, serving as a combat medic and a unit supply clerk. In 1988, while stationed in Germany, he volunteered for duty at the Flugtag ’88 airshow at the U.S. Air Force Ramstein Air Base near Kaiserslautern. With an anticipated crowd of nearly 300,000 people, Cannady was present to provide medical assistance in case of emergency, but nothing could prepare him for the tragedy that unfolded that day when three of the show's aircraft collided and crashed into the ground near the crowd below. With 70 confirmed fatalities and hundreds of severely injured spectators, it was the third-deadliest aviation accident in the country’s history. 

The events of that day caused Cannady significant trauma, both physically (he still has scar tissue in the center of his brain) and mentally (he psychologically blocked all recollection of the incident for 20 years). But thanks to the determination of his supportive wife, Cannady sought medical evaluation in 2008 for unexplained panic attacks. Working with trained psychologists, he recovered the painful memories from that tragic day and was diagnosed with PTSD.  

Today, Cannady is a vocal advocate for disability rights and veterans’ issues. He founded and currently serves as CEO of the National Veterans Service Bureau, a service-disabled-veteran-owned small business that provides IT services to state, local and federal government organizations. He has traveled to Washington, D.C. to lobby for accommodations for individuals with disabilities, earning recognition from U.S. Senator Roy Blunt and former U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill. 

“There are 57 million disabled people in America and there are 1 billion disabled people in the world," Cannady said. "It’s my goal to leave my children a better world then what I grew up in.”  

Vincent Cannady (right) with U.S. Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, whom Cannady has met with to discuss and advocate for disability rights. Credit: ProvidedAll Rights Reserved.

Finding a sense of belonging

Currently serving in the U.S Air Force as a cyber surety specialist, fourth-year-student Katie Latter has found a sense of belonging in her military career. After graduating high school, she was looking for something more than the standard college path, and the military provided her with this opportunity,

“I have a long family history of military service I wanted to do something different that wasn't just 4 years of school right into a job,” Latter said. “The military gave me an opportunity to help pay for school, get experience in my career field, learn new skills, and created time for me to figure out what I wanted to do with my life.”

Latter's IST classes have helped to prepare her for her Air Force job where she has learned valuable life skills.

“I was grateful many of my classes I have taken put me ahead of my peers at my job training for the Air Force,” she said. “I was able to help those around me learn the material needed to pass our courses as I had previous exposure to many of the concepts. I learned how things we learn in class apply in real life.”

Latter is currently training to become an aerospace medic. Once she is certified, she will have the opportunity to travel around the United States and internationally with the Air Force.

“I want to just live life to its fullest, travel and see the world; life is short and I don't want to spend the time I have doing things that don't make me happy,” she said. “The military will allow me to travel while making a difference. My time at Penn State has given me the tools I need to be successful in my chosen career. I have great industry knowledge and will be able to find a job that can also help finance my goals.”

Katie Latter Credit: ProvidedAll Rights Reserved.

Familial military legacy drives student airman to service

U.S. Air Force Reserve Aircraft Fuel Systems Maintainer Senior Airman Jonas Jason enlisted as a reservist right out of high school in 2018 out of a sense of duty to both his country and his familial legacy.

“I come from a military family,” Jason said. “Both of my grandfathers were Marines and my uncles and my mom were in the Navy. I really look up to my mom for stepping out of her comfort zone. She is one of the toughest people I know and I wanted to follow in her footsteps.”

As a full-time student who is graduating this semester with a bachelor's degree in information sciences and technology and a minor in Chinese, Jonas finds himself bouncing between being a student and an airman.

“It keeps me on my toes,” Jason said. “I have learned discipline and humility in a way that has kept me grounded and able to deal with adversity from the Air Force. And, I have learned effective communication and technical skills from all of the IST groupwork.”

Similarly to his mom, Jason has stepped out of his comfort zone and is proud of the impact he has made and the people he gets to work with.

“Every time I see one of our planes take off and fly around Pittsburgh, I know that I had the privilege of supporting the mission,” he said.

Jonas Jason Credit: ProvidedAll Rights Reserved.

Visit to read stories of more members of the IST community recognized during Penn State Military Appreciation Week, including U.S. Army First Lieutenant Koby Allen; U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman Second Class Bryan Hill; U.S. Marine Gunnery Sergeant Charles Hickey and Pennsylvania National Guard Captain Francis Killeen.

Last Updated November 18, 2021