Campus wide, College of Science and Mathematics, Computer Science, Student Stories

DOD’s SMART Scholarship awarded to Zach Weaver

By Hanah Kerrigan | May 3, 2023

Zach Weaver has become the second CSU student to be awarded The Department of Defense’s SMART Scholarship. The SMART Scholarship is an opportunity for STEM majors that includes full tuition payment, stipend and allowance, summer internship opportunities, and, upon receiving their degree, guaranteed employment with the DOD.

Weaver is a sophomore cybersecurity major and is minoring in criminal justice and information systems. He says the opportunity was the answer to his prayers, as it’s given him the chance to achieve his biggest career goal: to work for a government agency that aids in cybersecurity, defense tactics, and helps fight national cyberattacks, all before he’s even halfway through his degree. He detailed the application process for the opportunity, saying it was a rather smooth process including information, references, and a personal essay about his choice of study, along with a requirement of a minimum GPA of 3.5.

He said the scholarship wouldn’t have been possible if not for CSU – it was actually another cybersecurity major who told him about the opportunity – and his professors. Weaver also acknowledges how much of an honor it is to be the second student from Charleston Southern to receive the scholarship.

Dr. Sean Hayes, chair of the CSU computer science department, said the program acknowledges the talent of the students in the computer science and cybersecurity programs and is happy that students have the opportunity to be recognized for this as well. The CSU cybersecurity program is only five years old. Hayes said, “I expect more of our students to receive recognition from the DOD and elsewhere as our program continues to grow.”

Weaver is looking forward to advancing his knowledge in his academics and career through this opportunity with the Department of Defense. The department employs nearly 3,000 STEM professionals working to not only protect the country but also evolve and train the next generation of science and technology developments and students.

He encourages any student considering the award to apply because of the benefits and simple application process. According to DOD’s SMART Scholarship statistics, the program awards nearly 500 students, roughly 47% of these applicants being bachelor’s students. The program overall has awarded 3,783 scholarships to students from over 400 universities, with a success/completed commitment rate of 91%.

Hanah Kerrigan is a junior English major and is a spring 2023 intern with the Office of Marketing & Communication.

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