$100,000 to 12 finalists chosen as Women In Defense Scholars


ARLINGTON, VA – Women In Defense and its strategic partners Booz Allen Hamilton, Leidos, Standard Technology Inc., BAE Systems and Raytheon Missiles and Defense are proud to announce the 2022 Women In Defense Scholars. Twelve women studying for careers in national security have been selected for the 2022-23 academic year, sharing almost $100,000 in funds among them.

The finalists are among 68 eligible female students who submitted bids to become WID Scholars, formerly called the Horizons Scholarship program. The funding they receive helps them pursue education on the path to a career in defense or national security.

The WID Scholars are as follows:

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 performed various 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. After graduation, she plans to continue her dedication to space and defense by helping engineer the next generation of launch vehicles.

Army Capt. Victoria Amato intends to pursue a master’s degree in construction management from the University of Southern California and use her degree with a follow-on assignment at the Army Corps of Engineers Los Angeles District office. She graduated from the University of Virginia with a bachelor of science degree in architecture and was commissioned as an officer in 2015. Her first assignment was with the 8th Brigade Engineer Battalion at Fort Hood, Texas, as an Engineer Support Platoon Leader. She then worked with the Army Corps of Engineers District in Louisville, Kentucky. Amato was assigned to the 19th Engineer Battalion at Fort Knox, KY in November 2019, serving as an Operations Officer in the battalion for a year and as a company commander for 17 months.

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 Defense Department. 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 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 degree in civil engineering from Florida State University and is a candidate for a master’s degree in business administration at Howard University. She is a program manager at Lockheed Martin in Orlando, where she leads projects related to global security, innovation and aerospace for the Defense Department 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. 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 to ensure food quality and adherence to 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 and is an affiliate at the Disaster Research Center with interests related to response and recovery, volunteer management and the sociology of health. She previously earned her master of arts degree in sociology from Delaware and a bachelor of science degree in emergency administration and planning from the University of North Texas. Fraser is an emergency preparedness student co-op with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in Rockville, Maryland, and an active disaster response volunteer with Team Rubicon. Following graduation, she plans to apply to the Coast Guard Officer Candidate School.

Rachel Mugalu attends Rutgers University where she majors in biological sciences with a minor in military science. She serves in the New Jersey Army National Guard and will be the Operations Officer for the fall 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.

Navy Ensign Hannah Prince is pursuing a master’s degree in politics and international studies at the University of Cambridge. She earned a bachelor’s 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, Prince will serve as a naval aviator.

Navy Ensign Skyler Schork was recently commissioned and received a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy, where she was a Trident Scholar. At the academy, Schork conducted research in building a machine-learning model to predict and quantify the profusion of optical turbulence in an operating environment. She served for two years on the Brigade Honor Staff, was a four-year member of the Jewish Midshipmen club and a member of the varsity women’s rowing team. Schork plans to pursue a master’s of science in mechanical engineering at Stanford University before a career in naval aviation. Her long-term career aspirations include becoming an astronaut.

Aaliyah Seals is a third-year criminology student at Howard University, where she is pursuing a bachelor’s degree and intends further graduate study. She is a member of the NAACP Howard Chapter. She is an intern with the Civilian Office of Police Accountability in Chicago, where she supports 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 plans to establish a career with the FBI.

Jiselle Thornby is a second-year doctoral student in chemical engineering at Purdue University. Funded by Army Combat Capabilities Development Command-Army Research Laboratory, she studies the additive manufacturing of energetic materials, especially next-generation gun propellant systems, for defense and national security applications. Her work extends into the synthesis, deposition, combustion and functionality of printable energetic materials. She has international research experience in Leeds, England, and is working on her fourth journal publication. Thornby holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemical engineering from the University of North Dakota.

Allison Tsay studies aerospace engineering and business administration at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 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. Tsay also is studying for a private pilot’s license.

Applications for the 2023-24 class of WID Scholars will open in early 2023. Previous WID Scholars may apply. To be eligible for the scholarship, applicants:

  • Must be a woman enrolled at an accredited university or college, full or part time, for the fall 2023 semester
  • Must be a U.S. citizen
  • Must have completed at least their sophomore year in college (60 credits)
  • Demonstrate an interest in pursuing a career related to national security or defense
  • Demonstrate financial need
  • Have a minimum 3.25 grade point average

WID is an affiliate of the National Defense Industrial Association of Arlington, Virginia.

For media queries, please contact Evamarie Socha at esocha@NDIA.org


About NDIA

The National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) is America's leading defense industry association promoting national security. NDIA provides a legal and ethical forum for the exchange of information between industry and government on national security issues. NDIA and its members foster the development of the most innovative and superior equipment, training, and support for warfighters and first responders through its divisions, local chapters, affiliated associations, and events. For more information, visit NDIA.org

About WID

Women In Defense (WID), a National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) Affiliate, engages, cultivates and advances women in all aspects of national security. Incorporated in 1985, Women In Defense provides members a business environment for professional growth through strategic networking, education, and career development. This national alliance is comprised of women and men from industry and defense organizations of every size; all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces; Government agencies, academia, think tanks, associations, and professional services.