In 2013, the Government CIO Veterans Scholarship in honor of Tony Camilleri was established as an annual scholarship thanks to the generosity of Brian Moran, MS ’07, the CEO of Government CIO. This summer, Brian and one of the scholarship’s recipients, Mark Chernov, MS ’17, met for the first time. The two discussed their shared background as U.S. military veterans, GW’s Master of Science in Information Systems Technology, and what the scholarship means to each of them.
Brian Moran: It’s great to finally meet you in person. Are you from the area originally?
Mark Chernov: I grew up in Russia.
BM: When did you move from Russia?
MC: In 2005, it seems like a long time ago. We moved to the U.S. when I was still a teenager. My mother, sister, and I moved to Corpus Christi, Texas with my stepfather. He was an American—they met in Germany—a U.S. Army veteran.
BM: An Army vet, like you are now?
MC: Yes, and you’re a veteran too, I think.
BM: I was in the U.S. Navy for four years. I was an avionics technician and worked on the EA-6B Prowlers. I was stationed down here, that’s how I ended up in the area. I’m from New York and then I was stationed down at [Joint Air Base] Andrews. The Naval Air Facility Washington is there, and there used to be an EA-6B squadron, the VAQ-209, based out of there. They switched planes—they used to be the EA-6Bs and now they’re the EA-18s—and they’ve moved the squadron out to [Naval Air Station] Whidbey Island in Washington state.
MC: How many years were you in?
BM: Four years.
MC: Oh, me too. And one and a half years in the reserves.
BM: What branch were you in?
MC: U.S. Army Intelligence. It was pretty much the same as business intelligence—you get a bunch of information from different sources—from signals intelligence, from human intelligence—you put it all together and analyze all this information and you give out a recommendation to your commander on what’s going on. It’s kind of relevant to the business side.
BM: Absolutely. So, did you enlist, or were you an officer?
MC: I did OCS [Officer Candidate School]. Bootcamp in Georgia, OCS, then Intel School in Arizona. Then I got stationed in Hawaii. I spent some time in Afghanistan then ended up back in Hawaii.
BM: Hawaii? You can’t beat that!
BM: So why did you leave Hawaii?
MC: D.C. was just better for opportunities.
BM: For jobs?
MC: Yes, definitely. D.C. is a great location to be in, that’s one of the reasons I chose GW too. I did my research on information systems technology programs and found a few in the area, but I picked GW because it’s the best location, first of all, but also a strong program.
BM: My experience was pretty spectacular. I liked all my professors, they were all really good.
MC: Were you in the MSIST [Master of Science in Information Systems Technology] program too?
BM: I graduated from the EMIS [Executive Master of Science in Information Systems] program, which is a little bit different. It’s the same program except that every other Friday or Saturday it’s all day and it’s out in Ashburn instead of all here in Foggy Bottom.
MC: Yeah, I’ve heard about this one, I think it calls for more of an executive experience.
BM: Most of the folks that were in my program already had some years in senior management experience.
MC: Yeah, I’m brand new.
BM: What do you want to do when you’ve finished the program?
MC: Well, I still have a few years, but I plan to stay in the audit field. I hope to switch from the financial side, which is what I’m doing now, to the IT side, and everything I’m learning in MSIST will really help me out, help me understand all the systems and processes.
BM: I think that auditing is a great area to focus on—there’s always work in that direction, especially in this area and especially if you have government experience. So you’re still working?
MC: Working and in school full-time, but without this scholarship, it would be impossible for me to stay in school full-time.
BM: That’s great to hear the scholarship is making a difference—that’s what you hope for.
MC: It was such a surprise when I received the scholarship; I didn’t really know much about it.
BM: I wanted to establish this scholarship when I learned that Tony Camilleri, the person the scholarship is named for, was diagnosed with cancer. He passed away from his cancer last year, but he knew the scholarship was coming. Tony was a really important guy at Government CIO, he was the account executive who connected us with the Department of Veterans Affairs and gave us the first opportunity we had to do business with the VA.
Tony is actually a really important to me personally as well—he’s my uncle. He was a veteran, he was a Navy veteran as well. To me it was important to honor his name by establishing this scholarship and also making sure that it was a veterans-based scholarship. Seeing veterans being recognized for their time and service and receiving this kind of support is extremely important to me, and Tony shared the same philosophy.
MC: To receive this scholarship and be recognized for being a veteran too was really special, and it has really made a difference for me. I use my GI Bill but there are always extra expenses for education and the scholarship has helped to cover those, so thank you.
BM: I’ve always felt like it was important to make a point of giving back. I’ve spoken to classes here at GW we’ve hired GW students at our company, but establishing this scholarship was a chance for me to give back in an important way that was special to me. It’s great to see that it’s making a difference for a student veteran like you.