IWP Alumnus of the Month: Bill Elliott

March 2009

March 12, 2009  |  STUDENTS & ALUMNI

Bill ElliottThe Institute gave me a shot at the jobs I wanted.” 

These are the words of 2007 IWP graduate, Ensign William Elliott.  Upon graduating from UCLA with a BA in history in 2002, Bill worked as a Capitol Hill staffer for a while, but found that he did not want to continue there in the long term.  While in D.C., however, a chance encounter with a Naval Intelligence Officer on the subway gave Bill the inspiration he had been missing.  He resolved to pursue a career in the Navy. 

He returned to California, delighted that he now had a professional goal in mind.  While teaching at his alma mater, Modesto High School, he proceeded to apply twice to become a Naval Intelligence Officer, and was twice turned down.  Intelligence is easily one of the most difficult commissions to attain in the Navy.  Undeterred, it was at this time that he heard of The Institute of World Politics.  Realizing education was the key to getting him over the top, here was a program that offered courses such as Introduction to Intelligence, Military Strategy: An Overview of the Theorists of Warfare, Military Intelligence and Modern Warfare, and Comparative Intelligence Systems: Foreign Intelligence and Security Cultures to name just a few.  He applied and was accepted into the MA program.     

After attending IWP and successfully earning a Masters degree in National Security Affairs with a specialization in Intelligence, he applied again in 2007 to become a Naval Intelligence Officer.  Out of 1200 applicants, he was one of 45 civilians to be accepted.  His perseverance paid off.  After completing the rigorous Officer Candidate School, he was commissioned an Ensign in the Office of Naval Intelligence of the United States Navy.   He believes that his education at IWP was the key to his acceptance. 

Bill now works as an intelligence officer for a naval aviation squadron, and is currently stationed in San Diego.  He observes that IWP prepared him well for his professional life: “The Institute’s emphasis on geopolitical events and strategic intelligence is directly used in my day-to-day job and in serving in the intelligence community and in the armed services.” 

In one example of how the Institute had helped him, Dr. John Lenczowski, the President and a professor at IWP, whom Bill counts as “one of the most influential figures in my life,” introduced Bill to a tool that he often uses as a Naval Intelligence Officer.  Dr. Lenczowski instructed his students to write a paper using translations of foreign primary source materials from the Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS), which is now known as the Open Source Center (OSC) at the CIA.  This proved to be just one of the valuable tools of which Bill learned at IWP that “can directly be used in the application of intelligence in the professional world.” 

Because of his education at IWP, Bill was able to pursue the career he wanted, the U.S. Navy added to its ranks a well-prepared intelligence officer, and our nation is more secure because of it.