Two Allegheny College Students Awarded Prestigious Department of Defense SMART Scholarship
Allegheny College students Morgan Douglas ’23 and Rachael Harris ’23 have been awarded the U.S. Department of Defense Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship.
This award provides Douglas and Harris with full tuition for their graduate studies at Carnegie Mellon University, where they will be participating in the 3-2 cooperative program for a Master of Science in Information Security Policy and Management. Students who enroll in this accelerated master’s degree program complete three years of study at Allegheny College and two years at Carnegie Mellon University.
Through the SMART Scholarship, Douglas and Harris will also receive mentorship, summer internships, a stipend, and full-time employment with the Department of Defense upon graduation.
Douglas, an economics major and computer science and mathematics minor, is thankful that Allegheny College gave her opportunities to pursue funding and mentorship support.
“Allegheny’s rigorous classes and phenomenal professors have helped to prepare me for this opportunity,” Douglas says. “I enjoyed my data analytics and quantitative coursework through the Economics and Computer Science Departments, which led me to look into Carnegie Mellon’s graduate programs. Once I was informed about the SMART Scholarship, I was extremely excited to see an opportunity that aligned with all of my academic interests.”
Douglas’ SMART Scholarship Department of Defense-sponsoring facility is the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in Springfield, Virginia. Her focus will be in computer and computational sciences and computer engineering, with an interest in cybersecurity and data analytics.
She credits Director of Career Education Jim Fitch for making a connection with an alumnus who works at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.
Douglas adds that if it weren’t for Allegheny Professors Timothy Bianco, Tomas Nonnenmacher, Oliver Bonham-Carter, and Harald Ellers, she wouldn’t have had a complete application or this opportunity. “They were instrumental in this process,” says Douglas.
A similar support system led Harris to her own opportunity with the Department of Defense. With a love for writing, public speaking, and research, she began her studies at Allegheny as a law & policy student, sparking a passion for civic engagement and democratic participation.
She further learned about data ethics and privacy, declaring a computer science major with minors in political science and philosophy. She cites Professors Janyl Jumadinova, Gregory Kapfhammer, Douglas Luman, and Maria Kim-Heinert as key mentors throughout this process.
After her time at Carnegie Mellon, Harris will head to a Defense Intelligence Agency location in Washington, D.C., where she will focus on cybersecurity and information technology.
“It was through so many of these connections and conversations that I was able to not only find my passion but find opportunities that aligned well within it, and for that, I am incredibly grateful,” she says.
Patrick Jackson, senior assistant dean for fellowship and pre-professional advising, encouraged Harris to include philosophy as a core initiative. Jackson commends Douglas and Harris for their commitment to such important work.
“The current state of world affairs should remind all of us of the critical work that the Department of Defense does,” Jackson says. “Their job is difficult, complex, and requires serious expertise. Mistakes could cost not just millions of dollars, but also human lives.”
The SMART Scholarship offers students hands-on experience at one of over 200 innovative laboratories across the Army, Navy, Air Force, and larger Department of Defense. During their summer internships, Douglas and Harris will work directly with an experienced mentor, gaining valuable technical skills.
“The fact that not one, but two Allegheny students have been selected illustrates how well-prepared our students are to take on important projects,” Jackson says. “Putting together a successful application to this program means convincing a very skeptical audience that you’re ready for a challenge.”
For more information on the SMART Scholarship Program, visit www.smartscholarship.org. The application is open annually from August through December.