Leo Reges graduated from Oklahoma State University in May with a computer science degree and minors in math and German. The SMART scholarship he received led to a job at Tinker Air Force Base right after graduation.
“It stands for ‘Science, Mathematics And Research for Transformation’ and it is a program in which students apply for a scholarship through the Department of Defense,” he said. “What it entails is they give you a stipend so that you can live. They also pay for your school.”
Reges started out as a history major but soon switched to computer science when he was unable to find many scholarships. While he always had an interest in computers, he never realized he would one day be working in a secure area for the United States government. He works mostly with codes and programing but everything he does is to support our country’s aircraft and defend our nation.
“Now that I have graduated, I have started working at Tinker Air Force Base in the software maintenance group,” Reges said. “I am not completely lost, because as part of the SMART scholarship they have you do a paid internship over the summer. So, you learn the ropes.”
Before graduating, Reges was heavily involved with the OSU German Club, serving as both the treasurer and vice president. He also worked at German Online, teaching high school students from all over the country about a language and a culture that he loves.
“I chose German because my family is German, so I have a background in the language,” he said. “I also think that taking a foreign language opens one’s mind to a whole new world of possibilities.”
Reges recommends that everyone take a class outside of their comfort zone. For him, it was an art history course that changed the way he views the world and ignited a passion to travel and see the art in person.
“It ended up opening a whole new world,” Reges said. “It was entirely fascinating. It gives you a whole new context to see things. Taking an art history class means that if you do make a trip to a country such as Italy, Greece or France, you know what you are looking at when you go to all the famous sites.”
Reges has a three-year commitment at Tinker Air Force Base, one year for every year he received the SMART scholarship. He has considered staying at Tinker following his commitment but is also open to a variety of other opportunities.
“If I wanted to stay working with the Department of Defense, I could get transferred to literally any military base in the world most likely,” Reges said. “I would love to travel. I would love to go back to Germany. I would love to explore other things. I would like to spend time familiarizing myself with new things and creating new and helpful experiences.”