Fourteen University of Georgia students in the Security Leadership Program at the Center for International Trade and Security (CITS) in the School of Public and International Affairs will travel to Washington D.C. over spring break to meet with national security officials and experts.
The Security Leadership Program is a selective, writing intensive, two-semester program in which students combine directed readings with briefings by researchers at CITS for the first semester, followed by a semester-long mentorship in which they serve as research assistants to CITS staff working on weapons proliferation issues. The Washington meetings will familiarize students with agencies and organizations with whom CITS partners. The trip will also expose CITS interns being trained in nonproliferation and other security and trade issues to a range of employment opportunities and provide a recruitment opportunity for the host agencies.
The four-day visit will include meetings at the Departments of Energy, State, and Commerce, the Pentagon, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Nuclear Threat Initiative, National Defense University, the General Accounting Office and the CITS offices. The students will also spend a day on Capitol Hill for meetings with Georgia Senator Saxby Chambliss' National Security Advisor and staff members for the House Committee for Armed Services, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and the Joint Economic Committee.
CITS has a long established international reputation for its research and outreach efforts countering threats to international security. The Washington trip will provide exposure to the cutting edge opportunities being provided to UGA students planning careers in the area of national security, says CITS Director Gary Bertsch. "We are one of a handful of university programs that gives undergraduate students research opportunities usually reserved for graduate students and we want to draw attention to that fact." Graduates of the Security Leadership Program are of increasing interest to agencies working in the security arena. Recent placements include the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Department of Defense, the Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), and as staff for members of Congress holding security-related committee memberships.
"Our experience has taught us that there is a demand for new college graduates who have some practical experience in addition to the degree in international affairs or political science," said Terrell Austin, Director of CITS Student Programs who will lead the group. "The Security Leadership Program is designed to acclimatize students to the missions and structure of the federal agencies and nongovernmental organizations which offer the best job prospects. Agencies have been very warm to the idea of new hires who come in with a good understanding of what they do. Our students hit the ground running."
The trip is being made possible through the generous gifts of private individuals and UGA alumni.