Wegrzyn awarded SMART Scholarship

 Emily Wegrzyn
Emily Wegrzyn

PhD student Emily Wegrzyn has been selected for the prestigious Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship-for-Service Program, which is funded by the Department of Defense. The primary aim of this program is to increase the number of civilian engineers and scientists in the U.S. 

Wegrzyn holds a BA in history and MA in intelligence studies from American Military University and MLS from Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis. Her interest in librarianship started when she returned to college after serving in Iraq with the Army National Guard. While studying to become an X-ray technologist, Wegrzyn worked full time as a library assistant at the College of Coastal Georgia.

Wegrzyn's supervisory librarian, Duressa Pujat, told her that what she really wanted was to be a librarian and that she was a "natural." These words rang true to Wegrzyn, who finished her bachelor's degree and pursued library school.

Before completing her master's degree in library science, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers hired her on a conditional basis for a position in the DC/Virginia area. When there was a vacancy at the Construction Engineering Research Laboratory, Wegrzyn relocated to Champaign to be part of the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC), the research and development arm of the Corps. 

"As fate would have it, I transferred into a location that is also home to the nation's number one graduate program in library and information studies. Fortuitous!"

With the SMART Scholarship, Wegrzyn can keep her position as an ERDC librarian while she upgrades/upskills to her goal of earning her PhD and pursuing her own research—focused on applying information literacy approaches to disrupt adversarial information operations. In the future, Wegrzyn would like to explore ways that gamification can strengthen one's information literacy, and the potential for artificial intelligence to help verify information, boosting individual cognitive security.

The scholarship supplements her salary, allowing her to work less than full time, while pursuing her PhD full time. 

"This was a once-in-a-lifetime chance, and I had to go for it," said Wegrzyn of the scholarship. "Thankfully, I was selected. In all honesty, I was fully prepared to go for round two, maybe even round three if needed. As a retention scholar in the SMART program, I can stay right where I am at ERDC and the Corps of Engineers, but after finishing my PhD, I will have more research, leadership, and vertical movement opportunities."