ASU prepares global security grad for career opportunities


Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable fall 2021 graduates.

Growing up in Phoenix, Janna Tobin was aware of the local impact of Arizona State University. However, when she starting applying to colleges she quickly realized the national and international impact the university had.

“I knew that ASU, being a massive public research institution, would have a plethora of opportunities no matter the direction I decided to go in once I got there,” she said.

In 2019, Tobin graduated from ASU with degrees in political science and history. She knew that she wanted to continue her educational experience, hopefully in her home state, but Tobin wasn’t sure if she’d find a degree that aligned her interests.

However, upon receiving an email from the School of Politics and Global Studies highlighting the ASU Online Master of Arts in global security (MAGS), she knew she found the right graduate program.

“I was elated when I found the MAGS program because it focuses on my area of interest — conflict — and would allow for the flexibility I desired,” Tobin said. “I had a fantastic experience at ASU as an undergraduate, and I was ecstatic to be able to continue my education with the school!”

Her biggest apprehension about an online program was the level of interaction she would experience compared to an in-person degree. However, Jeff Kubiak, a professor of practice at ASU and co-director of the master’s degree, invited Tobin to connect with him and other recently admitted students over Zoom.

“This meeting assuaged my fears and I am continuously surprised at how the MAGS program has made me feel connected not only to the MAGS community, but also to (the school) and ASU as a whole,” said Tobin.

The lectures and events hosted by both the school and the Center on the Future of War, which many of the faculty are affiliates of, were especially beneficial according to Tobin. She shared that these events enhanced the learning that was happening in her courses.

“The pairing of the lectures and diverse set of learning materials alone makes these courses high caliber, but the incredible accolades of the professors set this program apart.”

The most memorable course that Tobin took was "Human Rights and Armed Conflict" taught by Lecturer Alicia Ellis and Professor of Practice Sarah Holewinski, which “examined the laws and principles guiding civilian protection in war, peacekeeping, challenges to aid efforts and many more ideas.”

Tobin appreciated the professors’ expertise and the content covered in the course which linked both practitioner and academic perspectives.

“We were tasked with writing a policy memo for our final essay, which was exciting to practice and helpful to those of us who may have professional aspirations in national government,” said Tobin of the course.

“Every course has been incredibly engaging, and has presented a wide array of perspectives and scenarios,” she said. “I love that the content is interdisciplinary and highlights contemporary case studies.”

Tobin, who will graduate with her MA in global security this December, is nominated for the Marshall Scholarship which provides full support for two years of graduate study at any university in the United Kingdom.

She has been interested in the Marshall Scholarship since her freshman year at ASU due to the cultural diplomacy aspect it poses. As she was mapping out her plan leading up to the application deadline, she met Kyle Mox, associate dean of national scholarship advisement with the Office of National Scholarship Advisement (ONSA), to get feedback on her essays.

“Dr. Kyle Mox at ONSA was incredibly helpful, not only in providing feedback for my essays, but helping me understand how to create a comprehensive application package that best reflects my background, interests, and experience,” Tobin said.

Faculty within The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences such as Kubiak, Instructor Charles Ripley and Assistant Professor Volker Benkert also offered Tobin support through the process.

Tobin said she was elated to hear she was a Marshall Scholar nominee.

“It was a great feeling to know that my hard work had paid off and that ASU was proud to have me as a representative of the university for nomination to the Marshall Scholarship.”

No matter what direction her career takes her, Tobin feels prepared thanks to the support of ASU both academically and professionally. For example, Ripley, through his professional career development course, helped Tobin examine career opportunities, develop her resume and offered interview advice.

“Ultimately, being able to explore a variety of different disciplines and research opportunities paired with advice from professors has helped me to better understand how I can leverage my degrees.”

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