A combination of professional goals and being a student-athlete led Maria Villanti to consider receiving an online Master of Arts in global security from Arizona State University.
While COVID-19 cut Villanti’s junior year lacrosse season short, the NCAA granted all spring athletes an extra year of eligibility.
Villanti knew she wanted to continue her lacrosse career, so she worked to complete her bachelor’s degree in political science and continued her academic journey studying global security.
“The thought of getting a second degree while playing was appealing. I had heard and read about the (global security) program during my undergrad,” Villanti said. “Based on the (program’s) reputation and my career goals, it was an easy choice to apply.”
Villanti’s undergrad experience allowed her to expand her understanding of how politics and security intersect, which the graduate program would go on to explore in depth.
Receiving her master’s degree has been insightful, Villanti said, because she is able to tailor her academic trajectory to her specific interests.
“I am super thankful for the program. It has taught me to critically think about a concept that I once thought was much simpler,” Villanti said.
“The professors and staff are intelligent and experienced in a variety of security fields, which has made for a great learning experience.”
Villanti appreciates the flexibility of graduate school. She feels that she has the freedom to design her academia, which has only amplified her passion for global security.
She attributes her successes in the School of Politics and Global Studies to attending events hosted by subject-matter experts and conversing with faculty outside of the classroom.
“Not everyone can say they have learned from a world-renowned staff,” Villanti said.
By capitalizing on connections, Villanti has been able to explore her interests in the professional workplace by acting as a global security watch officer for Boeing.
Villanti’s responsibilities in the position include monitoring worldwide events and identifying events with potential impact to Boeing operations, assets and personnel. She also practices briefing executives and facilitating crisis management.
“The (global security) program posted the job announcement on the weekly job opportunities page,” Villanti said. “The job description and the company were really attractive. I applied, and the rest is history.”
While she would like to eventually become a policy or intelligence analyst, Villanti is satisfied with her current role and the experience it has provided her with.
Villanti is grateful for her additional time spent at ASU as it allowed her to be open to change and maximize her relations with peers and professors.
“These are connections that will prove invaluable through time,” Villanti said.
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