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Jack Doyle (’19) reflects on his experience at Elon and IWP

Below is a reflection from Jack Doyle, Valedictorian of the IWP Class of 2019 and graduate of the Elon University Class of 2017. Elon is a partner school of IWP, and Elon graduates receive various benefits at IWP, including a $2,200 per semester scholarship.

It wasn’t long ago that I was a senior at Elon University, walking under the oaks during my final semester and wondering what the future had in store for me after graduation.  I reflected upon how my time at Elon had shaped me—through my immersion in Elon’s vibrant community, one-on-one mentorship with professors, and rigorous coursework.  Elon instilled in me a desire to engage with and make a positive impact on the world; it made me want to create change beyond myself and be a “Global Citizen.”  I knew that I wanted to devote myself to public service.  I wanted to go beyond everyday civics to work “for the people,” advancing the interests of my fellow citizens through a career in national security.

My attention turned toward where I could go, or what I could do to best build upon my Elon education to achieve this goal.  I had gained a solid foundation from Elon’s International and Global Studies and Religious Studies programs, and I wanted to develop a greater understanding of how to put all I had learned into action.  At one of Elon’s graduate school fairs, I ran into a school I had never heard of: The Institute of World Politics (IWP).

I was intrigued by IWP’s description as a small national security school focusing on applying the tools of statecraft effectively and taught by those who had made careers out of doing so in everything from diplomacy and intelligence to economics and warfare.  IWP promised to build my practical skills, expand my understanding of the day-to-day workings of the U.S. government, and give me a jump start on my career in D.C.  It seemed to fit in perfectly with my hope of turning theory into practice and knowledge into real world impact.  In the end, my gut told me that IWP would be the right choice for me, and I have never regretted that decision.

During my studies, I learned effective negotiation tactics from a former U.S. ambassador, explored the interplay between intelligence and policy with a former intelligence analyst, and crafted policy memos under a former director on the National Security Council.  These were practitioners who had been in the room, made the tough decisions, and pulled the levers of American policy.  I was able to take classes covering the impact of geography on military strategy, the moral tenets that underpin many of our country’s founding documents and strategic policy decisions, the importance of economics for foreign policy makers, and the machinations of violent non-state actors and how to counter them.

There were never more than 20 or so students in one of my classes, which led to robust discussions and in-depth mentorship from my professors, which was a welcome similarity to my experience at Elon.  Even outside the classroom, I learned a tremendous amount from my fellow students, most of whom were actively working while taking courses.  My classmates included veterans, enlisted servicemembers, foreign affairs officers, intelligence professionals, Peace Corp volunteers, lawyers, non-profit employees, and international students, to list a few.  All contributed their unique insights to our class, helped me better understand the kaleidoscope of U.S. departments and agencies, and expanded my network throughout the capital.

Being located in Washington D.C., I was able to pursue on-the-job experience while taking courses at night.  IWP has a strong career service office that helped me fully explore all the opportunities that D.C. had to offer, which far exceeded my expectations.  I took advantage of this by completing a virtual internship with the State Department’s Global Engagement Center to better understand the nexus between civic engagement and countering violent extremism.

In the end, IWP lived up to its promise.  Elon had broadened my horizons, given me an excellent background for understanding international affairs, politics, and culture, and set me on the path toward public service.  IWP honed my skills through practical application and prepared me to be a national security professional.  Over the last five years, I have filled various roles throughout the U.S. Government, putting what I have learned at both institutions into practice. I’ve seen firsthand the genuine difference that one person can make with the right preparation and guidance.  I am confident that completing both programs prepared me to navigate the complex world of international affairs and national security, including how to leverage my individual skills for the betterment of my community, the nation, and the world.

Jack Doyle
Elon Class of 2017
IWP Class of 2019