Article by Kate Lamar, Photo by Javier Chagoya
The smiling faces at the International Graduate Programs Office (IGPO) are some of the first to greet international students as they arrive at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) to begin work on their graduate degrees. This introduction marks the beginning of a relationship that is designed to last far beyond graduation.
“Our vision at IGPO is for someone who graduates to feel like they can come back here to NPS, physically or virtually through the alumni network, and feel like they are still a part of NPS,” said Jason Munoz, the Sponsor Program and Alumni Outreach Coordinator for the IGPO.
“We care about our graduates. They are part of the NPS family now, and I want to know if they’re still using what they learned here, what they are doing and how things are going for them,” Munoz said.
Munoz came onboard with the IGPO in March of 2010, tasked with building the international alumni network for NPS. This entails not only registering current students as they prepare to graduate, but also reconnecting with the sizeable community of international NPS alumni.
“Tracking down alums from the 70s and 80s has been difficult,” Munoz said. “I’ve gone through files pulling out old email addresses, only to find many of them now defunct. I’ve also worked through the current officers enrolled at NPS from the same countries and asked them to reach out through their channels. Some of the older alumni have already retired, so it’s really neat when we reconnect with them and see what they’re doing now.”
To date, Munoz has enrolled 500 of the 5,200 alumni and current international students in the network. He hopes to continue to grow the network in anticipation of the July launch of the new GlobalNet software platform for the alumni network. GlobalNet will offer a user-friendly interface, incorporate social media tools, and allow international participants to belong to multiple communities through the same web portal.
The IGPO is not the only organization on campus stressing the importance of staying connected with international partners. The Global Center for Security Cooperation and the Combating Terrorism Fellowship Program (CTFP), which works closely with the NPS Center for Civil-Military Relations (CCMR) and the Defense Analysis department, are both linking up with the new GlobalNet platform to help their international partners stay connected.
“What we’re trying to achieve with GlobalNet is to facilitate practical bonds with international counterterrorism professionals who can help each other,” said Julia McClenon, the Director of Outreach and Content Development for the CTFP Global Education and Collaboration Community Online (ECCO). “For example, if we had an Ugandan participant traveling to Somalia for work, he could link up with a CTFP graduate in the area to get information he might need for his travel.”
“The driving force and the vision for CTFP’s involvement is to create a counterterrorism network that helps fight terrorist networks by bringing together and connecting the people who need to work together,” said McClenon.
This vision fits nicely with the NPS mission of providing high-quality, relevant and unique advanced education as well as research designed to increase combat effectiveness of the U.S. and partner military forces while enhancing national security.