ECU computer science student receives national scholarship

Like many children, Micah Seetoo played video games, but beyond mastering level 10, he became interested in how the games and the devices on which they were played worked.

Now, he’s a computer science major at East Carolina University and a nationwide winner of a Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART) scholarship through the Department of Defense.

“Growing up as a kid, we had a family computer, and I just always had an affinity for computers,” said Seetoo, a rising sophomore. “It probably started with playing video games, and once I got to the point where I could surf the internet, I watched videos on how computers worked and how I could get hands-on experience with those types of things.”

Called the SMART Scholarship-for-Service Program, it provides a full tuition scholarship, a $25,000 per year stipend, mentorship, summer internships and a guaranteed job with the Department of Defense upon graduation. The program is designed to create a highly skilled STEM government workforce in technology and innovation that will help protect national security.

Scholarship recipients will get hands-on experiences and mentorship at one of more than 200 Army, Navy, Air Force or Department of Defense facilities during the summer internships. As a native of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Seetoo applied to and was selected by the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Philadelphia Division, for internships in 2023 and 2024 and a full-time job upon his graduation.

I want to do something where the work feels purposeful and I don’t feel like I’m doing meaningless work every day.
- Micah Seetoo

“When I did my interview, they told me that basically they did a lot of IT stuff, and the department that I will be in would be their IT and cybersecurity department,” he said. “But the umbrella of computer science is so big that there might be other positions in the Naval Surface Warfare Center that I could be doing as well.”

Being committed to work for the defense department after graduation doesn’t bother Seetoo.

“I want to do something where the work feels purposeful and I don’t feel like I’m doing meaningless work every day,” he said. “That’s the big reason why the SMART scholarship was so intriguing to me. Working for the government is a lot more meaningful than building buttons for Google.”

Seetoo becomes just the fourth ECU student to receive the SMART scholarship.

“That’s really cool,” he said. “When I saw that I would be the fourth person from East Carolina to get in, I was like ‘wow.’ It feels good to be up there in the ranks of those students.”

He said the application process for the scholarship was very involved and included recommendations, a personal statement and an evaluation from his high school guidance counselor. He said the process was all worth it when he learned he had received the scholarship.

“The first thing I did was call my parents to tell them that they didn’t have to pay for college anymore, and then we had a little moment,” he said. “I had a really hard time with being stressed out about college the first semester and where money was going to be coming from. To be able to take care of that — not just for me but for my family — means a lot. I’m not the one paying for college. It’s coming out of their pockets. It felt really good to be able to relieve them of that burden and be able to help set up even more opportunities for my two siblings who are also going to be going to college in a few years. It’s nice knowing I will have a job and that I will graduate without any debt.”