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​Bretz ’12 Receives SMART Scholarship from Department of Defense

Providence, R.I. – Providence College undergraduate Robert Bretz ’12 (Bristol, R.I.) recently was named a recipient of a U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) Science, mathematics, and Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship.

Bretz, who has a 3.90 GPA as an applied physics major and who is a member of the Liberal Arts Honors Program, was one of just 300 award recipients for the prestigious scholarship.

Bretz is the second PC student to receive the award in two years.  Catherine Beley ’12 (Hilton Head, S.C.), a mathematics major and an applied physics minor, was awarded a SMART scholarship in 2010.

Part of the National Defense Education Program, the SMART program uses DOD dollars to fund the college education of science and engineering students who are U.S. citizens.  In exchange, the recipients take paid summer internships in defense labs and agree to work for a DOD lab for one year for each year of college support they receive through the scholarship.

The program was created in 2005 to offset the high retirement numbers of military civilian lab scientists.  The scholarship is available to all undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral students pursuing degrees in the sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines.

In addition to the tuition payments and the paid summer internship, Bretz receives a cash award, health insurance reimbursement, a book allowance, mentoring, and employment placement after graduation. 

For the past two summers, Bretz has served an internship at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) in Newport, R.I.  After he graduates in 2012, he will continue working there under the SMART program – in a different role than he previously held – for at least one year, studying underwater acoustics and warfare analysis.

Bretz, who writes for The Cowl and The Alembic, said he applied for the scholarship because of his familiarity with and fondness for the NUWC.

Dr Lynne M. Lawson, assistant professor of physics, has had Bretz as a student in a number of courses and said he “has always been at the top of the class.”  Lawson added that what is “truly noteworthy” about Bretz is how he excels outside his academic major.

“I remember a year or so ago when I mentioned his name to a colleague of mine in the theology department,” Lawson recounted.  “She was shocked to learn he was in our program. I am sure that because he was such a strong student in her classes, she assumed he was a manor in one of the humanities.  I was so pleased to be able to tell her he was in our program and what a good science student he was.

“Bobby’s strengths are multifaceted.  In addition to being a strong student, he is a really good young man – polite, friendly, and respectful of his classmates and his teachers.”

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