USF Sarasota-Manatee student receives SMART Scholarship from US Department of Defense

A University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee student was recently awarded a Science, Mathematics And Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship from the United States Department of Defense.

Todd Mitchell, an Information Technology student at USF Sarasota-Manatee’s North Port location, will receive full tuition and fees, a stipend of $25,000 per year, a paid summer internship, and a guaranteed job after graduation.  He has accepted a civilian position with the Quantico, Virginia Marine Corps Systems Command to begin in 2012.  Marine Corps Systems Command is the Commandant of the Marine Corps’ agent for acquisition and sustainment of systems and equipment used to accomplish their war/fighting mission.

Mitchell had been in the Navy for 20 years and worked as a civilian in retail management before deciding to go back to college to get a degree in Information Technology.  He chose USFSM for its convenient North Port location and its real-world training that he knew would be applicable in the workforce.

“My family was already established in North Port, so I needed a convenient degree program option, and USF Sarasota-Manatee was exactly what I was looking for,” Mitchell said. “I liked that the IT program was actually teaching job skills that would make you employable, as opposed to business theory that doesn’t always apply in the real world.  The classwork I’ve done here is real-world stuff that I’m going to use in my career.”

Much of the real-world training that Mitchell has gotten at the university includes a specialization in Internet Security, which will be useful as he does research on cyber warfare for the Marine Corps.  He believes that his university experience and previous experience with the military helped him get the position, which was offered to only 300 of the 3,000 applicants who applied for the scholarship through the Office of National Scholarships.

“Most of my classes at USF Sarasota-Manatee were focused on security and writing software that isn’t vulnerable to hackers and malicious software,” he said.  “The Marine Corps was really impressed with all that I already know about the military and internet security.”

Mitchell’s professors at USFSM have been impressed with him as well, and are proud of him for receiving the scholarship.

“Todd has proven to be an excellent student, committed to his work and driven to succeed,” said Dr. Sunita Lodwig, an instructor at USF Sarasota-Manatee.  “His background and motivation to succeed make him the perfect candidate for this position.”