David Guenaga, a Ph.D. student in UTEP's geological sciences department, was awarded the Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship by the Department of Defense. Photo: UTEP Communications

UTEP Ph.D. Student awarded Department of Defense SMART Scholarship

David Guenaga, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Geological Sciences at The University of Texas at El Paso, was awarded the Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship by the Department of Defense.

With the SMART Scholarship, Guenaga will receive funding to pursue his doctoral degree in geophysics, and upon graduation, he will receive a guaranteed civilian position with the Department of Defense.

Guenaga will have the opportunity to begin a full-time career with the Naval Oceanographic Office at the John C. Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.

“As the son of a veteran and immigrant, it is an honor to receive a SMART scholarship provided by the National Defense Education Program,” Guenaga said. “The financial support, experience and guaranteed employment offered by this award alleviate many of the worries that come as a college student. I have to thank UTEP’s Department of Geological Sciences and my adviser, Dr. Aaron Velasco, for providing me with the knowledge and confidence to succeed as an up-and-coming scientist. Without their support, it would have been that much more challenging to obtaining this prestigious scholarship and gain favor from such a reputable government organization.”

For every year of funding awarded, Guenaga will work one year at the Navy facility. He will be working with Amy Rumish, oceanographer in the Acoustic Modeling and Database Division (Seafloor Interactions Branch) of the Department of Defense.

Other benefits of the SMART Scholarship include full tuition, an annual stipend, book and health insurance allowance and summer internships.

During their summer internships, SMART scholars work directly with an experienced mentor while gaining valuable field experience and skills at their facility. After graduation, scholars begin their service commitment at the same facility, where they will work full time as civilian employees and contribute to protecting national security.

For more information on the SMART Scholarship or to learn how students can apply, visit www.smartscholarship.org. The application window is open from August through December every year.