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Endowed scholarship honors memory of national icon

By Jan Joslin | March 11, 2021
Rosemary Wenchel and Charleston Southern University cybersecurity graduates
Rosemary Wenchel, far left, honored the first graduates of CSU’s cybersecurity program in 2019. Photo by Richard Esposito

The Rosemary Wenchel Memorial Scholarship has been fully funded and will be available to a female cybersecurity student seeking a career in supporting national security. 

Wenchel was known to many as a “national cybersecurity icon.” Palmetto Roost, a frequent supporter of CSU computer science and cybersecurity programs, initiated raising funds to establish an endowed scholarship in Wenchel’s memory. The Young AFCEANS, a defense contractor organization, raised an additional $3,300, and Wenchel’s husband, George Wenchel, contributed the remainder of the scholarship funds.  

Wenchel had been on campus several times to speak with CSU cybersecurity students and hosted a luncheon to congratulate the first cybersecurity graduates. George said, “Rosemary felt strongly about education in general. She was a stay-at-home Navy wife and mother until she was 40.  She then entered the computer/cyber workforce and quickly rose through the ranks.  She was a strong proponent of mentoring because she had never had a mentor.” 

She encouraged women to consider STEM degrees and worked to show them technology was a viable career option. When she retired in 2009, she was the senior civilian in Navy intelligence. During her career she worked for the U.S. Navy, the Department of Defense, and was the Assistant Secretary for Cyber Security Policy at the Department of Homeland Security. She loved Cyber Warfare as opposed to Cybersecurity, taking the offensive rather than being on the defensive. 

At her memorial service, George said several young Naval officers came up to him, separately, to say that Rosemary always made time to talk to them. “People respected what she had to say,” George said.  

The Rosemary Wenchel Memorial Scholarship will allow Rosemary’s influence to continue for future cybersecurity professionals. For more information and to contribute, click here.

First published in the Fall 2020 CSU Magazine.

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