Gatton Academy Graduate Awarded U.S. Department of Defense SMART Scholarship
- Author: Derick Strode
- Author: Wednesday, June 12th, 2019
Graham Stephens, a 2019 graduate of the Carol Martin Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky and Monroe County High School, has been awarded the US Department of Defense’s (DoD) Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship.
Stephens is the son of Loralee and the Honorable Wes Stephens of Tompkinsville. Stephens will pursue undergraduate study in computer science at the University of Washington in Seattle over the course of the next three years. The estimated value of Stephens’ SMART Scholarship exceeds $190,000 summed over the next three years.
The SMART Scholarship is a scholarship-for-service. The SMART Scholarship funds full tuition, a living stipend, a health insurance allowance, a miscellaneous allowance, summer internships, and provides an experienced mentor.
Stephens will be interning at the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) in Washington, DC each summer of his SMART Scholarship. He has been assigned to the Chief Information Office within the DIA, where he will be doing computational research projects. Stephens recently returned from a site visit at the DIA where he learned more about the types of work they do and what his future secure role will be like. Stephens will be working in a computational role both through his internships and his eventual employment with the DIA.
At WKU, Stephens worked with Psychological Sciences faculty member Dr. Lance Hahn on a computational research project investigating the correlation between depression and word usage.
“Although Graham worked in my lab strictly as a non-credit-earning volunteer, he was an important contributing member,” Dr. Hahn said. “Within the last year, he developed several algorithms that analyzed written text to determine the likelihood that the author of the text was depressed. In the spring semester, Graham developed a simple machine learning approach to the problem available online. Before starting his SMART Scholarship this fall, he will be developing much more advanced machine learning approaches to language processing this summer as a Machine Learning intern for Nashville-based Advent Health Partners.”
Stephens also graduated from The Gatton Academy’s STEM + Russian curricular track, taking four levels of the critical language essential to global collaborations and national security.
“The STEM + Russian program and my research have been some of my favorite aspects of the Gatton Academy,” Stephens said. “Russian courses introduced an important diversity to my curriculum by getting me to think about something other than STEM and academically challenged me in a unique way. My WKU research allowed me to gain niche computational skills that will be invaluable in both my educational pursuits and in real-world computational environments. I believe these experiences were strong factors in my pursuit of the SMART Scholarship and will be even more important once I begin work with the DoD.”
About The Gatton Academy: Established in 2007, The Gatton Academy is Kentucky’s first residential two-year program for gifted and talented junior and seniors. The Gatton Academy’s students enroll as juniors and are full-time WKU students pursuing their interests in advanced science, technology, engineering and mathematical careers. The Gatton Academy has been named to Jay Mathews’ list of top-performing schools with elite students, marking the tenth consecutive appearance.