Mission: Possible

University joins CSU consortium, preparing students for intelligence job competition

May 1, 2007

By Mimi Ko Cruz

The code name is CSU-ACE (short for the California State University Intelligence Community Center for Academic Excellence) and its mission is to prepare students to compete for myriad jobs at intelligence-gathering agencies.

Cal State Fullerton is one of seven CSU campuses taking part in the new program that is being funded by the United States Office of the Director of National Intelligence with a $3 million five-year grant.

Because of its National Security Studies program that has been training students for intelligence jobs for the past 15 years, Cal State San Bernardino is leading the effort. Besides Fullerton, the other participating CSU campuses are Bakersfield, Dominguez Hills, Long Beach, Northridge and Cal Poly Pomona.

Valerie O’Regan, assistant professor of political science, is directing the program for Fullerton. She said she expects to accept eight students into the program, which will begin in the fall.

As part of the program, students will be required to take geography and political science courses and a critical thinking class. The program is designed to increase the pool of eligible applicants for positions in the intelligence community, O’Regan said. Foreign language skills and practical ability in fields such as accounting, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and remote sensing — all of which are taught at CSUF — also are valuable for job seekers, she said.

The intelligence community includes such agencies as the Central Intelligence Agency, Coast Guard Intelligence, Department of Energy, Department of Homeland Security, Department of the Treasury, Drug Enforcement Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and the National Reconnaissance Office.
“These agencies have a wide variety of jobs available,” O’Regan said. “For example, in forensic accounting, they don’t want just an accountant, they want a well-rounded person who knows about world history and can look at the job from a global mindset.”

The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 and afterward in Britain, Spain, and elsewhere in the world have demonstrated how important accurate intelligence is for the nation’s defense, said Thomas P. Klammer, dean of CSUF’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences. “Many students are very interested in national service and CSU-ACE is tailor-made for careers in defense analysis or the intelligence fields.

“No matter how much things might change in our lifetimes, we can’t imagine this country without an intelligence community,” he added.
Klammer said the new program will be another of many the campus offers to help students prepare for the working world.
Indeed, said Jacoba Wells, a junior history major.

“I’m interested in the [CSU-ACE] program because it’s designed to help me get into a career that I’ve wanted to be in since I was 12,” she said. “I also think it is important that the program is being offered because in recent years, we have seen how disastrous the intelligence community has become. There needs to be a change in thinking and attitude within it. Hopefully, this program will help bring this change along.”

Wells said she hopes to land a job as a political analyst in the intelligence community upon graduation.

The classes required in the program, she said, “will give me skills that I’ll definitely be using in an intelligence job. I also think that it’ll make potential employers take my resume seriously.”

CSU-ACE also ties in with the CSU Strategic Language Initiative, in which Fullerton will offer an Intensive Institute in Persian Language and Culture beginning this summer.

The initiative is designed to teach Persian, Arabic, Korean and Chinese so that Americans can work more effectively with the citizens of countries where those languages are spoken. The other CSU campuses participating in that program are Long Beach, offering Chinese; San Bernardino, offering Arabic; Los Angeles, offering Korean; and Northridge, offering Russian.

“We’re interested in making sure our students are the best prepared to be competitive, and CSU-ACE and the Persian Institute are ways for our students to see that it’s a big world,” Klammer said.

For more information about CSU-ACE, visit www.csu-ace.org, and for details about the Persian Institute, visit http://hss.fullerton.edu/hss/persian.
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