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Student Earns U.S. Department of Defense Scholarship
Southwestern College is Only Community College in Country with SMART Scholar; Ana Ascencio Graduate of College District's Math, Engineering, Science Achievement Program

Ana Ascencio

Ana Ascencio on stage during this year's scholarship awards ceremony.

June 23, 2011– Southwestern College today announced that Ana Ascencio, who holds an Associate in Arts Degree (AA) in Mathematics and was a student in the College District’s Math, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) Program, was awarded a Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholar award from the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD). Southwestern College is the only community college in the United States with a SMART Scholar.

“The SMART Scholarship award is an amazing achievement for me because it is the result of the effort, dedication and perseverance that I have devoted to my career,” Ascencio said. “Being part of the MESA Program, where I currently work as a math tutor, has been a wonderful experience because I am able to help and encourage students to keep working and studying hard to accomplish their academic goals.”

The SMART award is given by the Defense Department’s National Defense Education Program and includes:

  • Cash award paid at $25,000 – $41,000 per year
  • Full tuition at Southwestern College and, upon transfer, any accredited college or university.
  • Health insurance and book allowance each year
  • Paid summer Internships each year until graduation from college (includes travel expenses)
  • Commitment to be employed at a DOD lab anywhere in the country

During summer 2010, Ascencio completed an internship at Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR), the Navy’s designated technical authority and acquisition command for command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, business IT and space systems. Ascencio has been accepted into the Applied Mathematics program at University of California Berkeley.

“This is an incredible accomplishment for Ana and our MESA program. It demonstrates that hard work in the sciences is paying off, helping students transfer and launch their careers,” Interim Superintendent/President Denise Whittaker said. “Our country needs bright scientists and engineers and Southwestern College is proud our dedicated faculty and staff can train them.”

Earlier in June, the College District announced that Frank Sanchez, a Mechanical Engineering major in the College District’s Math, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) Program, was awarded a $10,500 National Science Foundation (NSF) scholarship to transfer to a four-year institution. The award assists students who transfer and plan to earn a math-based degree.

Previously Recognized Alumni:


Southwestern College