ASHBURN, VA — A Stone Bridge High School graduate was awarded a Stamps Scholarship to attend Virginia Tech this fall. Mia Hagood, of Ashburn, is part of the largest class — 267 students — to receive a Stamps Scholarship in the 15 years of the scholarship program.
Selected from more than 263,000 applications, the 2020 class of Stamps Scholars was chosen by their universities for their academic excellence, leadership experience, dedication to service and exceptional character. With the four-year scholarship from the Stamps Foundation, Mia will be able to attend college and graduate debt free.
Mia was in class at the Academy of Engineering and Technology when she received a text message from Russell Shrader, director of admissions and scholarships in the Virginia Tech Honors College. Although she would not have normally done so, Mia said she asked her teacher if she could leave class to make an important phone call.
“After calling Mr. Shrader and learning I had won the scholarship I was in shock,” Mia told Patch. “I knew I was in the running since I had been down-selected to 30 candidates, but also knew only 10 students would win a scholarship, so I did not necessarily expect to win.”
Mia endured two rounds of personal interviews with three Virginia Tech professors and Randy McDow, executive Director of the Stamps Foundation. “When I told my parents I had won, I teared up and said, ‘I could not have done it without your help and support,'” Mia said.
Upon joining the Stamps Scholars and Honors College communities at Virginia Tech, Mia will get to perform original research. Mia plans to study general engineering, with a focus on computer science. In her research at Virginia Tech, she hopes to have the opportunity to apply machine learning and artificial intelligence to help overcome cybersecurity challenges.
“I enjoyed my computer science classes in high school,” she said. “I also became involved in several computer science clubs at Stone Bridge High School and the Academy of Engineering and Technology, which I attended every other day.”
The Academy of Engineering and Technology is part of the Academies of Loudoun, a school in the Loudoun County Public School system that opened in 2018.
Mia noted that Virginia Tech’s engineering program has a strong reputation. The university’s motto of “ut prosim” means “that I may serve” and is consistent with Mia’s personal values and goals, she said.
Many of Mia’s teachers in Loudoun emphasized that “the application of education is just as important as the grades students earned in their classes,” she said. “These teachers always attempted to connect what we were learning in class to real-world problems.”
Due to the coronavirus crisis, when classes begin at Virginia Tech, multivariable calculus will be the only one that she will be attending in-person. As it currently stands, the rest of her classes will be online.
For more than 10 years, Mia has been a Girl Scout and served as a voting member of the Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital Area Board of Directors. Mia said she would like to stay involved with the Girl Scout community while in college by supporting a local troop in Blacksburg and encouraging younger girls to consider pursuing a career in the STEM field.
Mia also works in the Explainers Program at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s Annex at the Udvar-Hazy Center. She provides demonstrations and answers questions for visitors about the history of aviation, spaceflight and aeronautics.
As a Stamps Scholar, Mia will have the opportunity to network with an international community of peers and alumni. In April 2019, almost 700 Stamps Scholars gathered for the fifth Stamps Scholar National Convention at Georgia Tech, where scholars explored innovative solutions to topics ranging from food insecurity to digital ethics and learned from accomplished community leaders.
This article originally appeared on the Ashburn Patch