Above: Ethan Field (’16) and Tim Field (’21) at Commencement in September 2021.
After his service with the U.S. Marine Corps, Ethan Field (’16) attended IWP. He used his IWP experience to transition to a job in government directly after graduation. A few years later, his father Tim Field (’21) followed in Ethan’s footsteps and enrolled at IWP to further his work with the Fairfax County Police Department, with future ambitions to join the State Department.
They had many of the same professors, the same challenges, and the same proofreader of their papers (Ethan’s wife Jessica), although, according to Ethan and Tim, only one of them regularly went out with classmates after class, only one of them completed all of the extensive readings, and only one of them drove to class in a police car. They both enjoyed the very personal nature of the classes and community at IWP. According to Tim’s wife Karen (Ethan’s mother), they both grew in confidence as a result of their intellectual and personal growth at IWP.
This is their story.
Ethan Field (’16): Service with the Department of Defense
Ethan served with the U.S. Marine Corps for a little over nine years as an infantryman. After falling in love with the culture and language in the Middle East, he studied Arabic at the Defense Language Institute and focused his undergraduate studies on this region.
When beginning to transition into a civilian position, Ethan found that an undergraduate degree was insufficient for the jobs in which he was interested. He began to look for M.A. programs and met Danielle Shover of IWP’s recruitment office and her husband Steve (’14) at an embassy event. From them, he learned about IWP.
Soon afterward, Ethan found himself in an IWP classroom thinking, “This is what my undergraduate international relations courses should have felt like. There was a connection between what we were learning in class and when the professor had practiced these things in the field.”
A few weeks later, at the IWP Christmas Party, Ethan met IWP intelligence professors who could speak from life experience. He decided to apply. “It was one of the better choices I made,” he said.
In his classes, Ethan realized that the marketplace of ideas is alive and well at IWP, and a variety of philosophical and political perspectives made for a valuable and exciting environment. He said: “My first week at the school, I wondered if I had made the wrong choice. I felt that I held different political views from some of my professors and wondered if I would get a fair grade, or if I was going to have such strong disagreements that I couldn’t get enough out of class.”
Yet Ethan quickly realized open-minded dialogue was the norm in IWP classrooms. “After several weeks in class, I spoke up and said something that felt at extreme odds with what my professors – Dr. Lenczowski and Prof. Fontaine – were saying. I waited to be rebuked. They devoted the next 30 minutes to exploring this idea, respecting my difference of opinion. I then knew no one was going to hold my politics against me.”
In fact, Ethan’s favorite professor, Dr. Marek Chodakiewicz (who missed Ethan’s first class due to a mysterious expedition in Eastern Europe) knew Ethan’s views and would request he debate with a classmate with an opposite view. Ethan remembered, “He coached me along in how to win arguments that he disagreed with! I knew he wasn’t picking on me – he was intentionally pushing me to explore that next thread of argument. If he thinks I’m wrong, I need to show him I’m right.”
Learning to articulate his own thoughts and absorb differing opinions was one of the most valuable things Ethan learned and practiced at IWP. The second greatest lesson he learned at IWP was how to write concisely. He recalled, “IWP did a good job of reinforcing the idea you should keep the bottom line up front.”
A senior decision-maker saw a paper I wrote influenced by IWP, and he gave me kudos for it.
Ultimately, both the tangible and intangible skills Ethan learned were integral to his success in his career at the Department of Defense. Under a tight deadline, Ethan was able to produce a paper that a senior decision-maker read and complimented him on, noting what he had learned from it.
In fact, it was IWP that led Ethan to his career at the Department of Defense. After struggling to find the right job before IWP, Ethan graduated with three job offers. It was an IWP alumnus who introduced Ethan to a fellowship opportunity at the State Department, which he successfully secured. During his fellowship, he always wore his keycard on an IWP lanyard. “I was stopped about 15 times in the halls of the State Department in the first six months by fellow IWP alumni who saw my lanyard.”
After his fellowship, he accepted an offer at the Department of Defense, where Ethan was also stopped by fellow IWP alumni. Instead of just briefly acknowledging they had the same school, these alumni wanted to talk about who they had for class and their similar experiences. According to Ethan, this is because of the “close-knit nature of the school.” He said, “The people who know, know it’s a good school. It’s a tough school. For as small a school as IWP is, the networking is disproportionate to the size.”
I was stopped about 15 times in the halls of the State Department in the first six months by fellow IWP alumni who saw my lanyard.
Lt. Timothy Field (’21): A veteran of the Fairfax County Police Department
Tim Field enrolled in IWP’s Professional M.A. in Strategic and International Studies after Ethan graduated, in the midst of a 30+ year career with the Fairfax County Police Department.
He had attended a few IWP classes with Ethan and became more and more intrigued by the idea. This class, with Dr. Streusand, included 6-7 students, and Tim was impressed with the almost Socratic method used in the classroom. He said, “You have a small group of people who knows who you are and welcomes engagement.” Tim was introduced to the class, and the professor even asked his opinion on the topic they were discussing.
Tim began to think an IWP degree could help him with his career following his police service.
A few years prior, as a part of the State Department’s international police training program, Tim had visited Armenia. He was part of a team that worked with the Armenian national police department to help strengthen their community policing standards. “I found it to be a rewarding experience, and I would love to do it again,” said Tim. Tim can retire from the police department in a few years, and though he could relax in retirement, Tim hopes to pursue additional opportunities like this with the State Department.
Tim also came to appreciate the flexibility of the program. After joining as a full-time student, he loved his first class on American Founding Principles. With a master’s degree in theology, Tim was already familiar with Greek philosophy and Judeo-Christian tradition. He remembers, “It was just a wonderful experience. I was able to engage with people who didn’t necessarily agree with me and engage with the material. I was scared to death at the first midterm, and I aced it.” After 20+ years out of a classroom, Tim knew he was ready to take on the full Professional M.A. program.
Tim’s second class was with Prof. Fontaine, who handed out a list of 250 terms the students needed to absorb and understand. “It was the hardest class,” Tim said – and Ethan agreed. But Tim was glad he took the class right at the beginning of his IWP career, because his familiarity with these terms enhanced his ability to understand his future readings. These terms – like irredentism and revanchism – continually popped up in IWP literature and conversation.
While at IWP, Tim enjoyed the intimate nature of the school. He was pleased to have the opportunity to sit down with Dr. John Lenczowski, IWP Chancellor, as they discussed together what he could do with his education and experience moving forward.
Tim acknowledges his IWP experience has been immediately applicable in his service with the Fairfax County Police. Fairfax has a very multiethnic population, and, while Tim always appreciated the differences of the cultures, he feels more prepared to interact with them now. He said, “A big takeaway for me from IWP was the importance of not assuming what other people think, and being sensitive to the value that other worldviews bring to the table.”
Although the police department often sends officers to the FBI Academy or places specifically geared for law enforcement, Tim would recommend IWP for other law enforcement officers. In addition to understanding it is important to avoid looking at other cultures through only an American lens, IWP can help instill “what a privilege it is to be a police officer – why the police are given authority, the checks and balances involved, etc.” Tim reflected that because police officers represent the government, understanding the way other cultures see government can allow officers to allay people’s fears and more accurately interface with them to resolve whatever situation is at hand.
Thoughts for prospective students
When asked, “what do you hope to share with prospective students?” Tim emphasized the personal nature of the school is both challenging and rewarding. “The things I wrote for class were genuinely digested by the professor, and the feedback was valuable to me.”
Ethan agreed, and he advised that students who choose IWP should “be ready to be challenged.” He relayed that the first six months were the hardest, but he found his footing and truly excelled. He advises students to speak up in the classroom, especially if they don’t understand something.
Ethan also noted that at IWP, you never feel far away from where you hope to work. Politicians, diplomats, and military thinkers kept showing up at IWP – for lecture events, for the Christmas Party, for Commencement. “Several intelligence agencies had very intimate hiring events when I was there,” said Ethan. “At other schools, you see the powerful person from the back of the auditorium. At IWP, you are in handshake distance.”
Ethan and Tim stay connected to the IWP community in their own ways. Tim serves on the Alumni Board and sang the National Anthem at IWP’s 2021 Gala. Ethan personally funnels job opportunities to IWP’s Career Services office and mentors students. As IWP’s first father/son graduates, Ethan and Tim’s paths will continue to unfold as they continue to serve our country.