“I saw a way to become a better person, officer, and leader by being at IWP.”
That’s how Major Santee Vasquez USA explains her decision to pursue an MA in Statecraft and National Security Affairs at The Institute of World Politics.
A logistics officer with more than eleven years of service in the Army, Maj. Vasquez has considerable expertise in her profession. Indeed, prior to attending IWP she taught a key operational logistics course required for captains in the Army’s logistics branch. She studied international relations and Russian studies at the University of California – Davis. And Maj. Vasquez was selected for the prestigious Expanded Graduate School Program (EGSP), which added IWP as one of its preferred schools in 2007.
According to a military publication, “The [EGSP] program is dedicated to increasing the retention of high-potential officers and enhancing the intellectual capital required by a joint and expeditionary force.”
By the nature of a program designed to give officers a broad range of new perspectives and opportunities, Maj. Vasquez had many choices of graduate school. Ultimately, she chose IWP for two reasons: “I was struck by Dr. Lenczowski’s message on the school website saying that IWP teaches students not what to think, but how to think. Also, the way IWP addresses core values and morals resonates with me.”
Of her instructors at IWP, Maj. Vasquez says, “What you bring to the table is important to them. They understand how it shapes your intellectual perspective and it’s from there that they develop their method of how to reach you.” Maj. Vasquez admits to being initially concerned that she had spent too much time away from academia, but quickly found that the intellectual atmosphere of IWP and its professors and students was exactly what she sought: “Their demeanor and optimism helped convince me that I had made the right decision and was going to succeed at IWP.”
Her fellow Institute students have also impressed Maj. Vasquez. Many of them bring unique professional experiences to the classroom, and other students who are just beginning their careers in foreign affairs and national security have impressed her as being future leaders themselves.
After she finishes her M.A. in June, Maj. Vasquez will return to an operational assignment, this time as the brigade supply officer to the 1st Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division, based at Ft. Carson, Colorado. Although she has not yet completed her studies at the Institute, she is quick to say that IWP has instilled in her a lifelong love of learning, and she says that her education at IWP is just the beginning for her. She believes this education has made her a much better leader on several levels. For instance, not only is she guided by a transcendent moral order (the possibility of which she studied at IWP), but she can now better explain to her subordinates “the strategy behind the way we do things…. IWP has ignited in me the desire to ask and answer big questions: Why are military and civilian leaders doing this? What do their decisions mean? Tackling these will serve me well – whatever the next step might be.”