Sam Johnson, ’22, on Being Awarded a Department of Defense Scholarship

Scholarships are a great way to help fund a college education, but they can also lead to opportunities later in life. In Champlain College’s Information Technology & Sciences Division (ITS)—the home of high-tech majors ranging from Computer & Digital Forensics to Game Programming—there are many scholarships available to rising juniors and seniors to help prepare them for life after graduation. We sat down with Sam Johnson, ’22, a Computer Networking & Cybersecurity student, to ask him a few questions about applying for the Department of Defense (DOD) Scholarship and the benefits of receiving it.

Sam Johnson, ’22 // Computer Networking & Cybersecurity

Q: What appealed to you about the Department of Defense Scholarship?

A: The DOD Scholarship is funded by the Department of Defense to help students in cyber-related majors, active military, or DOD employees gain access to positions within the Department of Defense. The scholarship pays for your college tuition, along with a few other benefits, and promises you a job after graduation. The trade-off is you have to work for the DOD after your graduate—one year for every year they covered. Since I received the scholarship as a junior, and the DOD paid for my junior and senior year, I have to work for them for two years. You also have the option to enroll in the military for four years if that’s more appealing to you. 

Q: What made you apply for the scholarship?

A: My advisor, Adam Goldstein, and other students who had received the scholarship in the past, encouraged me to apply for it. What really pushed me to apply was the promise of a job after graduation and the economic relief of not having to pay back half of my schooling thanks to the scholarship.

I noticed this scholarship my sophomore year, and had to wait a year to apply since only juniors and seniors can receive it. 

The Department of Defense scholarship is just one of the many scholarships available to current students in the Information Technology & Sciences Division.

Q: Is there anything you wish you knew about the scholarship before you applied? 

A: I think the one thing I wish I had known is that the government really takes time. That was the biggest stressor so far. The time between when I was told I had received the scholarship and any sort of next-step communication from the scholarship people was around five months. It’s not that something was wrong, it’s just that the government takes time. 

The government has to put you through background checks and security clearances because you’re going to be working in a secure government position. They look at every aspect of your life. If you’re planning to work for the government, I would say you have to expect them to dig really deeply into your life when they’re researching who you are, and that process can take a long time. 

Q: What advice would you give to students who want to apply for this scholarship in the future?

A: Apply! Certainly apply, because I went through the thought process of thinking that maybe I wasn’t a good candidate for the scholarship, and maybe I shouldn’t apply. The application is kind of daunting. It’s very long and it involves a lot of writing. But I would say it’s definitely worth the effort because the government has a lot of jobs, and while it is a very prestigious scholarship, a surprisingly small number of people applied for it. Across the whole country, I think only 600 people applied. 

So I would just make sure that you apply. That’s the biggest thing. Be truthful, be honest, don’t hype yourself up on paper, but don’t shortchange yourself either. Going to Champlain College really does give us a lot of opportunities and achievements, so be sure to put that stuff down. Any internships, personal projects—anything. Just put it all on your application. It might make you stand out a little more. 

Interested in learning more? Visit the ITS Division or DOD scholarship pages!

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