Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) held a graduation ceremony for six service members who graduated from the National Security Affairs (NSA) Regional Security Studies Course Dec. 13, 2018.
“This is a celebration, and celebrations are about achievements,” said Capt. James McReynolds, the keynote speaker of the ceremony. “Every student here achieved something significant. You don’t just leave with a certificate, you leave with an education.”
Most of the students in the NSA Certificate Program will become Foreign Area Officers serving at U.S. embassies abroad, and many of them came to the three-month seminar-style course already having a Master's degree in International Relations, Political Science or a related field. The course allowed them to specialize in the particular regions of the world where they will be assigned.
“Foreign Area Officers serve as subject matter experts in regional political-military affairs,” said graduate U.S. Air Force Maj. Katherine Kordecki. “The knowledge each officer gained here at NPS will help contextualize US policy within a greater social, economic, and geo-political frame of reference, and will better allow him or her to advise senior leaders on the potential impacts of those policies.”
Many of the graduates had families who attended the ceremony where they listened to McReynolds share an important point.
“Always remember that when you’re in a foreign country, you represent the United States of America,” said McReynolds. “So, it’s up to you, 24-hours a day, to say I want to give this image of what America is. I guarantee every person you meet is thinking that you are the best of the best. You are there because of that, to represent your country. So, live up to that.”
As one graduate noted, they made connections with the staff and each other, and got different perspectives on their next assignments more than they normally would.
“It definitely exposed me to a lot of things that I normally wouldn’t have in my normal job, so coming here and getting back into academics and looking at the environment is really going to help,” said graduate U.S. Navy Lt. Roger Long. “Getting more familiarization with who I’m going to be working with will help me later on.”
The final point McReynolds made during his speech was just how lucky these graduates where to be going to their assignments.
“I am a little envious,” said McReynolds. “You are going to see great and wonderful things and do difficult, hard work. But at the same time, it’s incredibly rewarding. Hopefully NPS helped bring you along that path towards success.”