Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWCDD) Dahlgren Division Scientist Kelly Morgan will receive the NSWCDD Distinguished Community Service Award for outstanding dedication and service to the Dahlgren School. A native of Fairfax, Morgan began his career with the NSWCDD after submitting his resume to a grassroots representative at a University of Mary Washington job fair. “I didn’t even think I would be doing IT, let alone Dahlgren Naval Base,” Morgan said. “Working for the Navy, supporting the warfighter and feeling like I’m making a tangible difference in our country was a really exciting opportunity for me.”
Early in her career at NSWCDD, Morgan was approached to start an elementary school coding club. As someone who didn’t start training in computer coding until late in her college years, Morgan wanted to give kids an early insight into the STEM field. “It’s wonderful because I can watch them as they start to understand and ask questions,” she said. “I’m explaining something and seeing it click in their head and seeing them make those connections is so special.”
The coding club is open to fourth-year middle school students, but they also got a second-year student involved. “That’s what I find so important. Making sure we continue to diversify STEM fields,” Morgan said. “Different perspectives are vital to new solutions and I hope to play a part in ensuring that diversification happens.”
When asked what’s next for the program, Morgan has high hopes for the future. “We’re really trying to expand into middle and high schools as well, so we’re going to continue the Dahlgren school coding club, but also try to start a high school club in area schools. I’m really excited about the opportunities ahead.
According to Morgan, receiving the award is both a surprise and an honor. “Being nominated and then winning made me realize how important it is. There are times when I feel like it’s a lot of work, but I keep going,” she said. “Seeing the kids, how excited they are and how much they’ve learned, I’m so glad I continued on this path and didn’t walk away from the STEM program.”
Morgan is one of seven NSWC Dahlgren Division employees to receive the Distinguished Community Service Award at the 2021 Honors Awards Ceremony on June 17.