WID Scholar Award Winners
Since 1990, Women In Defense has awarded over $1,000,000 to more than 200 deserving recipients pursuing education toward a career in national security.
2022 - 2023 Academic Year
Phyllis Alinsao is a senior studying mechanical engineering at the University of Michigan. During her sophomore year, she worked for Northop Grumman as a year-long Instrumentation and Test intern, where she carried out various types of tests for part qualifications and investigations. Her passion for aerospace and defense grew during her internship, and she pursued this passion at SpaceX as a Flight Termination Systems intern. At SpaceX Alinsao built new hardware and supported builds for the next generation of launch vehicles. Post-graduation, she plans to continue her dedication to space and defense by helping engineer the next generation of launch vehicles.
Captain Victoria Amato, USA
Captain Victoria Amato, U.S. Army, was born and raised in Virginia. She graduated from the University of Virginia with a B.S. in Architecture and commissioned as an officer in 2015. Her first assignment was with the 8th Brigade Engineer Battalion at Fort Hood, TX as an Engineer Support Platoon Leader. She then worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) District in Louisville, Kentucky. CPT Amato was assigned to the 19th Engineer Battalion at Fort Knox, Kentucky in November 2019, serving as an Operations Officer in the battalion for a year and was a company commander for 17 months. Amato intends to pursue a master’s degree in construction management from the University of Southern California and utilize her degree with a follow-on assignment at the USACE Los Angeles District office.
Viviana Angelini is pursuing a master's degree in Security Policy Studies at the Elliot School of International Affairs at George Washington University while working for the Department of Defense (DoD). She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, with a bachelor’s degree in political science, a certificate in security studies, and minors in Russian, international politics, and piano performance. Throughout her undergraduate career, Angelini researched North Korea’s nuclear targeting strategy and served in multiple internships in the U.S. House of Representatives and the DoD. As a graduate student, she focuses on military operations, emerging threats, and cyber issues, while her thesis centers on NATO-Russia relations. Angelini intends to continue her public service throughout graduate school and beyond, advocating for innovative, collaborative, and equitable solutions to global security issues.
Naomie Baptiste holds a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Florida State University and is a Master of Business Administration candidate at Howard University, ranked by Bloomberg as the nation’s top HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities). She currently works as a Program Manager at Lockheed Martin in Orlando, FL where she leads projects related to global security, innovation, and aerospace for the Department of Defense and federal government agencies. She volunteers as the President of the Central Florida Section of the Society of Women Engineers and was awarded a 2021 Orlando Magic Hometown Hero for contributions to industry and community.
Kerry Candlen received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in plastics engineering from the University of Massachusetts Lowell, before beginning her Ph.D in the same program in January 2022. As a research assistant at the university, she has projects focused on the degradation of plastics in different environments. One defense-related project studies flexible multilayer packaging for use in meals-ready-to-eat (MREs) to ensure food quality and adherence to all safety guidelines. Candlen anticipates a rewarding career researching and developing sustainable plastic materials that can compete with petroleum-based plastics for a wide variety of applications.
Roni Fraser is a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology at the University of Delaware (UD) and is an affiliate at the Disaster Research Center with interests related to disaster response and recovery, volunteer management, and the sociology of health. She previously earned her M.A. in Sociology from UD and a B.S. in Emergency Administration and Planning from the University of North Texas. Currently, Fraser is an emergency preparedness student co-op with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in Rockville, MD, and an active disaster response volunteer with Team Rubicon. Following graduation, she plans to seek acceptance to the U.S. Coast Guard Officer Candidate School.
Rachel Mugalu, the eldest of two girls, grew up in Clifton, New Jersey. She attends Rutgers University majoring in Biological Sciences with a minor in Military Science. Mugalu serves in the New Jersey Army National Guard and will be the Operations Officer for the Fall 2022 semester in the Rutgers Army ROTC Detachment. Mugalu plans to continue her training and education in pursuit of a physician’s billet in the Medical Corps. She depends on her faith and support from family, friends, teachers, and her cadre for motivation and inspiration. Her hobbies include reading, writing, and cooking.
Ensign Hannah Prince, USN
Ensign Hannah Prince, U.S. Navy, is pursuing a master’s degree in Politics and International Studies at the University of Cambridge. She earned an undergraduate degree in Cyber Operations in a National Security Agency-accredited technical track with a minor in Spanish from the U.S. Naval Academy. She applies her technical cybersecurity background in her postgraduate research on the ethical and political implications of information technology investments by great powers in other countries. Upon graduation, Ensign Prince will serve in the U.S. Navy as a naval aviator.
Ensign Skyler Schork, USN
Ensign Skyler Schork, U.S. Navy is a native of Villanova, PA and recently received her commission and a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) where she was a Trident Scholar in the Class of 2022. At USNA, Ensign Schork conducted research in building a machine-learning model to predict and quantify the profusion of optical turbulence in an operating environment. Ensign Schork has also served for two years on the Brigade Honor Staff, was a four-year member of the Jewish Midshipmen club, and was a proud member of the Varsity Women’s Rowing Team. Ensign Schork plans to pursue an MSE in Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University prior to a career in naval aviation. Ensign Schork’s long-term career aspirations include seeking candidacy as a NASA Astronaut.
Aaliyah Seals is a third-year Criminology student at Howard University, where she is pursuing a bachelor’s degree with the intention of further graduate study. She is an active member of the NAACP Howard Chapter, and interns with the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) in Chicago, IL. In her COPA internship, Seals provides support to investigators responding to complaints against police officers. Seals’ upbringing and passion for social and criminal justice inspired her to pursue a career in national security focusing on moral and ethical regulations and norms for law enforcement operations, and their importance to community development and crime reduction. She ultimately plans to use her education and experience to impact national law enforcement by working for the FBI.
Jiselle Thornby is a second-year doctoral student in Chemical Engineering at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. Funded by DEVCOM-ARL, she studies the additive manufacturing (3D-printing) of energetic materials, especially next-generation gun propellant systems, for defense and national security applications. Thornby’s work extends into the synthesis, deposition, combustion, and functionality of printable energetic materials. She has international research experience in Leeds, England and is working toward her fourth journal publication. Thornby is a first-generation student from Devils Lake, ND. She holds two Chemical Engineering degrees, B.S. (summa cum laude) and M.S., from the University of North Dakota.
Allison Tsay was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, and has lived in Boston, MA, for five years. An electrical engineer, Tsay first fell in love with aviation while working for Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works, the company’s research and development facility in Palmdale, CA. In her current role as a Systems Engineer at Mercury Systems, her work architecting models helps pave the way for the company’s transition to Models-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE). In addition, Tsay is working toward earning her private pilot license, and in her free time enjoys capturing aerial videography with her drone and creating aviation and defense-related social-media content.