Four UNG students chosen for national security program in Washington

Washington Program on National Security

Of the 15 students selected for the Washington Program on National Security, four are from the University of North Georgia.

The Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization organizes the program, which will be June 16-30 in the nation’s capital. The two-week program covers all costs except the students’ travel to and from Washington, D.C.

UNG alumnus Jacob Malimban and current students Taylor Mullikin, Ella Reid and Thomas Vella look forward to the experience.

Vella, a senior from Atlanta, Georgia, is pursuing a degree in strategic and security studies with an international affairs concentration. A previous Critical Language Scholarship winner, Vella said the opportunity comes at the right time since he is scheduled to graduate in August.

“I want to network and meet people who are in positions I want to be in one day,” Vella said. “This is a great steppingstone.”

Possible speakers for WaPoNS include current and former officials in the White House, intelligence community, the Pentagon, Congress, and think tanks.

Mullikin, a junior from Peachtree Corners, Georgia, pursuing a degree in political science with a pre-law concentration, is president of Nighthawk Politics and the UNG Speech and Debate Club, as well as secretary of UNG’s Model United Nations.

“I was interested in the program because of my history of traveling for debate, which inspired me to understand how other nations interact,” Mullikin said. “I also am interested in national security based on increasing global connectivity and issues of shrinking resources facing countries moving forward.”

Malimban, a Cumming, Georgia, resident who earned degrees in computer science and cybersecurity in December 2020, previously studied in Japan on a Boren scholarship. He wants to see where his cybersecurity skills fit.

“I want to meet other students who are interested in national security and have different perspectives,” Malimban said.

Reid, a sophomore from Cumming, Georgia, is pursuing a degree in strategic and security studies with a concentration in intelligence and a minor in Chinese. She started learning Chinese in middle school. Once she found out about UNG’s strategic and security studies degree, she realized how well it aligned with her growing proficiency as a member of UNG’s Chinese Language Flagship program.

Reid, who is in UNG’s Honors Program, is eager to add to her acumen through the Washington program and is grateful for the support of UNG faculty.

“I had no idea about this program until one of my professors sent me an email,” Reid said. “The professors here are incredible at finding opportunities and pushing their students to excel.”

This year’s group brings UNG’s total WaPoNS participants to seven after having two in 2019 and one in 2018.

Dr. Bibek Chand, assistant professor of political science and international affairs, has taught Mullikin and is excited for what awaits her and the others from UNG.

“You read about it in books, but when you talk with the professionals who put it in action, that’s different,” Chand said.

Dr. Victoria Hightower, assistant director of the Nationally Competitive Scholarships office and associate professor of history, assisted Malimban and Vella with their application process. Hightower is grateful that Dr. Bryson Payne, professor of computer science and director of UNG’s Center for Cyber Operations Education, pointed out the program to faculty who were able to help students apply. And she continues to be impressed by UNG students, particularly their initiative to pursue WaPoNS after an unusual academic year.

“These four students chose to push themselves and keep moving toward their goals,” Hightower said. “It speaks to their resilience, focus and ambition.”

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