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    Mentorship: The Key to Success for Preparing the Next Generation of STEM Leaders in Protecting National Security

    2022: Phase 1 SMART Scholar and Mentor Pair

    Courtesy Photo | SMART Scholar: Ms. Devin Tarrant and Mentor: Ms. Karisa Hamilton... read more read more



    Courtesy Story

    SMART Scholarship Program

    SMART Scholarship-for-Service Program mentor Ms. Karisa Hamilton has established her own golden rule. Going off, “treat others how you want to be treated,” Hamilton mentors how she would want to be mentored, establishing open lines of communication with her SMART scholar mentee, Ms. Devin Tarrant, and taking an active role in the onboarding, training, and career growth of Tarrant. The pair, who currently work within the Missile Defense Agency’s (MDA) Flight Test Execution Division, were named recipients of the Fiscal Year 2022 SMART Scholars and Mentors of the Year Award for a SMART scholar currently in academic pursuit for an undergraduate or graduate degree.

    Tarrant is currently pursuing her bachelor’s degree in industrial systems engineering at Auburn University. Through Hamilton’s mentorship, Tarrant excelled during her internship with MDA, playing key roles in flight test training and executing multiple high stakes missile defense system tests. Hamilton trained Tarrant to facilitate multiple in-person flight test training sessions and how to operate the Operational Dashboard — a highly complex, multifunctional tool used to coordinate flight test activities, run check lists, and inform the entire test team on the status of critical test assets. Together, Tarrant and Hamilton spent countless hours on the console training Tarrant on mission voice protocols, reporting responsibilities, how to report mission anomalies, and critical to mission operations.

    The hard work paid off and Tarrant was selected to attend two highly visible international defense exercises: the Pacific Dragon 2022 flight test and the Glory Trip-243. Pacific Dragon is a biennial multinational exercise in partnership with international allies, including Japan, Korea, Australia, Canada, and Belgium. Tarrant attended the most recent Pacific Dragon 2022 flight test exercise off the coast of Hawaii in August 2022. The event included missile warning and ballistic missile search and tracking exercises, as well as a live fire event. Tarrant’s dedication and enthusiasm for the event further showed as she mentored a fellow SMART scholar by assisting with travel requirements and overall event experience.

    Tarrant also supported MDA’s participation in Glory Trip-243, an operational flight test of an intercontinental ballistic missile. Tarrant directly supported the event through preparation and real-time engagement. She prepared and reviewed mission execution documents, as well as assisted the mission test director in preparation. At the event, Tarrant operated the on console and executed the countdown, providing insight into real-time execution decisions based on her training sessions with Hamilton.

    Collectively, as a mentor and mentee pair, Hamilton and Tarrant exemplify professionalism, teamwork and dedication, demonstrating a desire to build the next generation of technically competent STEM leaders. Through their efforts, MDA successfully executed several high visibility multi-national flight tests in support of national defense. Their dedication to MDA and the Department of Defense embodies the SMART Scholarship-for-Service Program’s vision of creating a highly skilled workforce that competes with dynamic trends in technology and innovation to protect national security.

    Annually, SMART recognizes scholar and mentor pairs who embody the SMART vision of creating a highly skilled DoD workforce that competes with the dynamic trends in technology and innovation to protect national security. These awards recognize outstanding scholar achievements as well as the valuable guidance provided by their mentor at a SMART sponsoring facility.

    For more information on the Fiscal Year 2022 SMART Scholars and Mentors of the Year Award visit



    Date Taken: 01.26.2023
    Date Posted: 01.26.2023 15:05
    Story ID: 437305
    Location: US

    Web Views: 110
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