(Posted December 1, 2023)

Jackson Gamel ’26

Jackson Gamel ’26

HUNTINGDON, Pa.—Jackson Gamel ’26 was awarded the Department of Defense Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship.   

This award provides students with full tuition for up to five years, mentorship, summer internships, a stipend, and full-time employment with the Department of Defense after graduation. This unique opportunity offers students hands-on experience at one of over 100 innovative laboratories across the Army, Navy, Air Force, and larger Department of Defense.   

“I have always been interested in both computers and national security. I’ve always loved watching movies involving hacking and cyber-attacks, so that’s what made me more interested in looking into the field as an actual career,” said Gamel, whose Program of Emphasis (POE) at Juniata is cybersecurity. “I like the idea of being able to actively do something to protect and help people, all while being able to learn and improve my skills.” 

During summer internships, SMART scholars work directly with an experienced mentor, gaining valuable technical skills. After graduation, Gamel will work at the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Lakehurst, NJ, working in his chosen field and protecting people from cyberattacks.  

“After being notified that I had received the SMART Scholarship I was beyond excited,” he said. “Not only do I get to further my education and work skills by having a two-summer internship with a naval base, but I will also be guaranteed a job after graduation.” 

Gamel has found the experience very rewarding and describes the award as “life-changing and an honor.” He credits his experience at Juniata as foundational to preparing him for his future career and in equipping him to secure the scholarship.  

“I am meeting with my professors and advisers to individualize my POE, which I am really excited about. I’ve already taken a variety of computer science courses as well as psychology, so having them guide me on the right path is beneficial.” 

The Department of Defense is committed to developing the nation’s STEM talent. It is the largest employer of federal scientists and engineers, with nearly 150,000 civilian STEM employees working across the Department. DoD STEM activities support this mission by providing authentic learning experiences through a variety of education and outreach initiatives, such as the SMART Scholarship-for-Service Program. For over a decade, SMART has trained a highly skilled STEM workforce that competes with the evolving trends of industry to support the next generation of science and technology for our nation.   

For more information on the SMART Program or to learn how students can apply, please visit www.smartscholarship.org. The application is open annually from August through December.   



The SMART Scholarship-for-Service Program is a combined educational and workforce development opportunity for bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. students to gain technical skills in critical STEM fields and support the national security mission of the Department of Defense. 

Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.