Navy veteran, IST student marshal gets ‘best of both worlds’ with World Campus

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Chase Kelly, a United States Navy veteran and graduating senior in the College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST), thought attending Penn State World Campus meant that although he’d have the flexibility of an online education, he’d be missing out on the social interactions of a resident program. But as he approached his graduation, he says he got the best of both worlds.

“No one I know who went to another online school has anything to say about the student experience,” he said. “[I do], when I talk about all I’ve done and the family that is Penn State.”

Kelly has not only forged strong friendships with his classmates and served as president of the Blue & White Society’s World Campus chapter, he also represented the University by waving the green flag at the Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) race where NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon drove a Penn State-themed car in 2015.

Now, Kelly is at his own finish line, graduating cum laude as the College of IST’s student marshal for summer 2017. He will be escorted by Gary Heberling, assistant teaching professor of IST.

Graduating with a bachelor of science in IST with an emphasis on integration and application, Kelly was able to fit his classes into his work schedule.

“I needed an online program due to my shifts,” he said. “World Campus was perfect and the prestige of Penn State was unmatched.”

He joined the Navy in 1996 and was honorably discharged as a leading petty officer. While serving, he was responsible for training military and foreign naval personnel on missile systems. Still working closely with the Navy, he now has a similar role with Lockheed Martin. Building upon his experience, Kelly delivers crucial training on the Aegis Weapon System, a technology developed to guide and track missiles.

But after leaving the military and working with Lockheed Martin, Kelly was looking for his next step.

 “I joined the Navy to find my own way to pay for and go to college,” he said.

When the time finally came, he began exploring online education and came across a U.S. News report on Penn State World Campus. After that, he said his mind was set.

“[When I started my degree], it was to augment my career as a naval instructor,” he explained. “A few of my first classes directly translated into new knowledge that I used with some of [the Navy’s] newest ship systems and network designs.”

Now he sees even more value in his degree.

“Now I have a great foundation for nearly any IT job if I choose to change fields or look for a civilian-sector position,” he said. “The combination of my military electronics background and the IST degree from Penn State will allow me to move forward in my current career or take a leap in a new field.”

With the support of his wife, Kelly, he eventually went on to earn an associate’s degree and will receive his bachelor’s degree during the University’s upcoming summer commencement Aug. 12.

As the first person on his side of the family to ever attend college, he’s even prouder to represent the College of IST as student marshal. And though his education was earned online, he looks forward to getting the best of both worlds one more time when he crosses the graduation stage in person.

“Nothing was going to stop me from this special achievement and celebration with my family on a lifelong goal.” He added, “I wouldn’t miss graduation for the world!”

Visit the Penn State World Campus website for more information on the College of Information Sciences and Technology programs.

Last Updated August 09, 2017