Vivian Hagerty (SSP ’19) complements academic pursuits in Security Studies with full-time work

November 2, 2018 by Margaux Fontaine

Vivian Hagerty (SSP ’19) has balanced both studies and a career during her time in the Security Studies Program. While studying at Georgetown part-time, Hagerty has been working full-time at Valens Global, a company that consults on counter-terrorism, serving in a project management and analytical role. “This has complemented my studies at SSP really nicely, as Valens’ work deals with violent non-state actors across the world,” Hagerty says. “I’m currently working on a project that will ultimately produce a framework to assess the threat of a nuclear terrorist attack.”

Hagerty mainly grew up in Champaign, Illinois, also living briefly in Philadelphia, Boston, and Sydney, Australia. She received her undergraduate degree at American University in 2016, where she had an interdisciplinary major in Homeland and National Security Studies with a focus in terrorism and intelligence and a minor in International Studies. Her undergraduate experience was enriched by a semester studying abroad at the Department of War Studies at King’s College London—”my favorite city in the world”—and a summer spent learning Turkish at Indiana University.

Upon graduation, she began working at the U.S. State Department, serving on the India desk and focusing primarily on political and bilateral issues. “This experience was unlike any other and I loved the work,” Hagerty says.

Hagerty on a work trip to London last year.

When considering graduate programs, Hagerty was “blown away” by the variety of courses offered at SSP. “Looking at the SSP course list, the breadth of regional coverage in addition to the diversity of topical courses convinced me that I could choose any combination of 12 courses and have an extremely fulfilling experience,” Hagerty says.

Hagerty’s main academic focus has been terrorism, but has been able to branch out at SSP by concentrating on U.S. National Security Policy. Hagerty also studied nuclear weapons and strategy while abroad in London, a field that she has returned to this fall in SSP Director Keir Lieber’s class on nuclear weapons.

One of her favorite parts about being a student at Georgetown is the faculty. “The professors that Georgetown attracts are incredible,” Hagerty says.

“I’ve been able to take classes from world-renowned academics and seasoned practitioners alike.”

Her favorite class has been “National Security Law” with Professor Christopher Swift, which she took her first summer in the program. “I still find myself referring back to information I learned in that class,” Hagerty says. “He taught me how to approach issues like terrorism and counterterrorism from a different angle, which really required shifting my entire mindset. It was a very valuable class.”

Hagerty has some advice to offer other students considering studying part-time while working full-time. “I would encourage students to really consider what they want to get out of each endeavor and shape their choices accordingly,” she says. “For me, I knew I wanted to get the most out of SSP while also working, which meant doing the program at my own pace and not worrying about my graduation date. I took last spring off to focus on work, and even though this means I’ll graduate in 3.5 years as opposed to the normal part-time 3, or normal full-time 2, it was the right choice for me to get everything I wanted out of both work and school.”

While Hagerty is not sure what her next move will be after Georgetown, she feels that,

“After SSP, the world is my oyster.”