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YCP Chemistry graduate lands SMART Scholarship-for-Service from Dept. of Defense

Dan Kazal headshot, fix web error.

Daniel Kazal ’16 spent his days as an undergrad riding his bike from the York College of Pennsylvania campus to the former West York location of Crystal Ball Brewing Company, where he immersed himself in the science of making beer. The Chemistry major dreamed of opening his own brewery. It seemed like everything was aligning, especially when he heard from Victory Brewing Company. The Downingtown, Pennsylvania, brewer was looking for an intern, and he spent his summer working in every department and even became the weekend fermentation supervisor.

When that experience ended, without the opportunity for a full-time job, Kazal realized he might have to rethink his plans. His second option was graduate school. “I was a little reluctant at first, but looking back, I’m really glad it happened,” he says.

Exciting trajectory

The next phase of his education led Kazal to pursue applied spectroscopy, the study of interaction between light and matter. Today, he’s in the last two years of pursuing his PhD in Analytical Chemistry from the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

Kazal recently learned the next five years of his life are set on an exciting trajectory. As the recipient of a SMART Scholarship-for Service from the National Defense Education Program under the Department of Defense, he will finish his education with a guaranteed job.

The SMART Scholarship, which stands for Science Mathematics and Research for Transformation, has been on Kazal’s radar for years. He applied four years in a row before landing the scholarship this year. As a Marine veteran who attended York College post-active study, he is passionate about defense research. While he’s excited to continue to serve his country through this scholarship, the program is open to all undergraduates who are ready to move into a job. “It’s a great opportunity for a range of STEM students,” he says.

SMART scholars work within labs and agencies of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and other Department of Defense agencies. The program offers scholarships for bachelor’s, master’s and PhD students. While in school, students receive full tuition, monthly stipends, health insurance and book allowances, as well as summer internships. When students receive their degrees, they start working in civilian positions with their sponsoring facility. 

Building mentors

Kazal’s sponsoring facility is CCDC Edgewood Chemical Biological Center. He looks forward to diving into more avenues of applied spectroscopy, and, all being well, even plans to make a visit to York College in the fall to present to Chemistry faculty.

He’s kept in touch with his undergraduate research advisor, Assistant Professor Bill Steel, PhD. “My time in the Chemistry program was a very positive experience for me,” Kazal says. “I don’t think I would have had the same relationships in a large university. I knew my professors really well, and they truly care about your next step and help you hone that.”

As he prepares for the next stage of his education, Daniel hopes other York College students will look to build mentors who help them move forward. “Don’t be afraid to make connections,” he says. “There’s a high demand for people with ambition. Explore the avenues you want to pursue and then look for people who can help you advance in those areas.”