A vote Wednesday might help Delexica Durham extend her career a little farther at Augusta University on her way to becoming an analyst for the U.S. Air Force and hopefully working at the Pentagon.
Durham, 19, plans to be among the first to enroll in a new Masters in Intelligence and Security Studies that was approved during the monthly meeting of the University System of Georgia Board of Regents. The new degree plans to appeal to not only current students but those already in the military at Fort Gordon who need an advanced degree to further their careers, said Dr. Gregg Murray, chair of the AU Department of Political Science, where the degree will be located. A 2012 survey of 303 intelligence personnel at the fort found that 42 percent were very interested in a masters program, according to information given to the board.
“In the military, they do a lot of graduate work as they move up in the ranks and we see this as an opportunity to provide some support for them as they are making their way up through their progression while they are here in Augusta and at Fort Gordon,” Murray said.
The program will seek to pull together a lot of the expertise at the school in areas like terrorism and seek to combine that with prowess in areas like the Cyber Institute to understand burgeoning security threats like cyber warfare and cyber terrorism and espionage among others, he said.
“We’ve got a lot of overlap and a lot of synergy that we can pursue in terms of cyber and terrorism and what is going on now because it is a big issue,” Murray said. It could also allow students a chance to look at a broader landscape than their current position may afford them, he said.
“The people out at the fort that work in intelligence, they are incredibly specialized and highly skilled at their areas but what we hope to do is bring some broader context so that they have the bigger picture so it is easier for them to connect dots in what they are seeing,” Murray said.
It has applications in the private sector as well, he said.
“Somebody has to understand those threats and the threat environment when they are in big companies with huge computer networks or even just have a location in a foreign country somewhere,” Murray said.
The new program also seeks to take advantage of the school’s and the area’s growing cybersecurity presence, which is one of the areas that excites Durham. She is already taking a class at the Cyber Institute where they study declassified reports from the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency.
“You get to dive into things no one really hears about,” Durham said, such as cyber warfare or attacks on critical infrastructure. “Cyber, it is so fast and it is advancing so quick that it is never going to stop. That is just how we are going to get attacked from now on it seems.”
As someone from Lincolnton, she is delighted she can access all that she needs to further her career at this point in “my backyard,” Durham said. “It’s made it so much easier and I don’t really have to leave home.”
Reach Tom Corwin at (706) 823-3213 or firstname.lastname@example.org.