By Bria Isaacson, News Editor
Senior Daniel Gallutia, an engineering mathematics major with a focus on civil engineering studying at Asbury University and the University of Kentucky through a joint program, has received a prestigious scholarship from the Department of Defense (DoD) known as the Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART) scholarship.
This scholarship, available to many science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) majors, includes full tuition for school, a health insurance plan up to $1,200 each year, a book allowance up to $1,000 each year, a stipend ranging anywhere from $25,000 to $38,000, guaranteed summer internships with the DoD or partners and a full-time job with the DoD or partners upon graduation, according to the DoD SMART website.
Gallutia competed against about 2,000 other applicants in order to become one of the 239 scholars awarded in 2016. This scholarship has about a 12% acceptance rate, according to the DoD SMART website.
Because of this, Gallutia, who had to have several essays, recommendations and interviews, never believed he would succeed.
“I would like to emphasize…that I applied for this scholarship never fully believing that it would become a reality,” Gallutia said. “I want anyone faced with this internal struggle [of not being capable] to learn from my experience that these opportunities are here to challenge you and help you grow.”
Gallutia competed against about 2,000 other applicants in order to become one of the 239 scholars awarded in 2016
Mathematics professor David Coulliette wrote one of the recommendations for Gallutia and coached him through the struggles.
“Daniel’s such a hardworking, self-motivated guy,” Coulliette said. “He’s a student who does a lot more than just get the ‘A’ in class…but learns the material deeply. This is the kind of person you want working at the DoD. He’s also personable and interacts well, which is rare in a math man.”
Coulliette believes that, in addition to this, Gallutia’s participation in the math modeling program helped him to stand out during the application process.
“Math modeling is a high-pressure, time-limited, cooperative project, and that’s what he’ll be doing with the DoD,” Coulliette said.
Gallutia has clearly seen Asbury’s academic and spiritual influence on his life.
“I believe that Asbury has prepared me…by solidifying what it means to be excellent in all that I do,” he said. “It’s the idea that everything that you do should be done with purpose and with a heart of love and care. The math and science departments exemplify this type of excellence by providing an environment for healthy learning with a faculty and student population that challenges one another and expects the best from each other every day without the toxic competitiveness that can be found in larger universities.”
He sees the influence this environment has had on his call to a vocation as well.
“Asbury has also taught me that the mindset of a Christ follower should not be to simply find a career path, but to learn how our passions can serve the global community in a tangible and effective way that exemplifies Christ’s love for us,” he said.
Gallutia will accomplish this through his DoD work on submarine technology, which will directly affect the safety of American troops worldwide.
Coulliette, who has done work in nuclear power and other mathematic fields, said that Gallutia will learn many important things during his time with the DoD.
“[While there] he’ll learn how a large engineering project is developed, from basic research to deployment,” Coulliette said. “And he’ll have the opportunity to invest deeply in one of those development stages.”
Gallutia is the second DoD SMART scholar who has come out of Asbury University, according to Coulliette. Kelly Christensen Bush, who graduated in 2009, also received this scholarship.
“One thing that helps Asbury math [and engineering] majors stand out is the extra year of computational math,” Coulliette said.
Christensen Bush went to work in air force logistics and has stayed with the DoD since then, according to Coulliette. He said he would not be surprised if Gallutia also stays with the DoD after the scholarship ends.
“Everyone’s wringing their hands about the STEM crisis and whether there’ll be enough people for defense work, but this [scholarship program] is helping people to fix that,” Coulliette said.