CNS Alumni

Stay in touch with your fellow alumni and to network on issues concerning nonproliferation and your careers.
Updated: Jan 8, 2010

CNS Alumni


Welcome to the CNS Alumni Web Page. We encourage you to use this site to stay in touch with your fellow alumni and to network with each other on issues concerning nonproliferation and your careers.

We hope you enjoy using this site and welcome your comments and suggestions.

Alumni Share Their Experiences

"My decision to attend the Monterey Institute was ultimately based on its unique strengths in nonproliferation studies and its Russian language program.

"I was fortunate to have been chosen to be an intern at the United Nations (UN) Department for Disarmament Affairs in New York after my first year of study at the Institute through the Center for Nonproliferation Studies' (CNS) intern program. I was asked to do research and writing assignments by Under-Secretary-General Jayantha Dhanapala (former CNS Diplomat-in-Residence) and by Hannelore Hoppe, Chief of the Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Branch.

"The highlight of my internship was attending the UN General Assembly's First Committee (disarmament and security issues) meeting, where I assisted the UN Secretariat and diplomats with their work, and sat behind the podium at every meeting. This gave me a unique perspective on how the General Assembly addresses disarmament concerns and on the procedural functioning of the United Nations.

"The most valuable aspect of the internship experience was the chance to see how differently the worlds of academia and diplomacy function. The CNS internship gives students an opportunity to bridge that gap personally, and lets the experience inform them in their future careers.

"When I returned to Monterey for my third semester in Spring 2000, I was asked to be the "President" of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference simulation, a participatory class on international negotiations.

"My internship at the United Nations prepared me greatly for this task, as I had already met many of the real-life participants and had helped to prepare background information for the Conference. I returned to New York in May 2000 to attend the last ten days of the actual Conference, where I assisted the Acronym Institute in publishing daily reports on the progress made in negotiations.

"My CNS internship and simulation classes exposed me to the dynamics of multilateral negotiations, important to understanding the progress made on disarmament issues."
— Mary Beth Nikitin



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"CNS was not only a good experience in terms of acquiring content knowledge, but while working at CNS, fifty-percent or more of the materials I handled were in Russian, and this greatly enhanced my language capability. This was critical in getting my job at the Department of State.

"I would not have achieved the level of language fluency needed if it had not been for my time at the Center as well as at the Monterey Institute. I felt like while I was here I had the chance to develop my full potential, because I was encouraged to be autonomous and independent as a researcher and a writer.

"As well, the CNS International Organizations and Nonproliferation Project internship was a great experience in working in an international organization. I would highly recommend these opportunities to anyone interested in either nonproliferation issues or security issues at large."
— Lisa Holtyn
"The Center's paid internship program has enabled me to gain invaluable experience at the International Atomic Energy Agency. During my internship, I was able to further my knowledge and refine my research and analytical skills. I also had the opportunity to meet and interact with experts in the field on a day-to-day basis.

"I highly recommend the internships to students who are dedicated to the field of nonproliferation."
— Sandi Arnold
"My experience at the Center helped me in my career a great deal. I learned about new sources of information on a variety of issues, learned how to utilize large amounts of information efficiently, and learned a lot about the topics in which I was involved.

"Perhaps the most important thing for me, though, is the contacts I made when I was at the Center. I worked closely with the CIS scholars and have continued to maintain professional relationships with them, and have worked with a number of them in my subsequent jobs."
— Elisa Moskowitz
"I became especially interested in nonproliferation and disarmament during my CNS internship at the United Nations in Spring 1998, during which I was afforded the opportunity to see and participate in the nonproliferation effort at a global level.

"When I read the information about CNS and the Certificate in Nonproliferation Studies program, I decided to attend the Monterey Institute of International Studies, focus on nonproliferation studies, and to work on issues pertaining to the former Soviet Union."

Liz found the most important aspects of her CNS experience to be "working with an international staff with vast experience in the field, and developing abstracting and analytical skills."
— Elizabeth "Liz" Dickinson (Keith)
"What I enjoyed most about CNS was to be able to use my language skills in my job and to be able to gain practical experience in the nonproliferation field while still in graduate school. My experience at CNS helped teach me about the policy aspects of nonproliferation and gave me a window into the interplay between nongovernmental organizations and the government. These experiences are very relevant for my present position."
— Lara Cantuti
"While interning with the House of Representatives Committee on International Relations, I ran across Dr. Potter's name numerous times, and his work at the Center peaked my interest. I came to Monterey to study at the Center and to learn Russian. What has been most valuable to me while with CNS has been the interaction of working at the Center while taking classes about similar topics, and having the same friends in those two venues with which to discuss news and ideas."
— Paul Irwin
"Some of the great things about the certificate program are the variety of classes offered and the small class size. I found that while writing papers and doing research, the faculty at CNS were always ready to provide help. The work experience at the Center was also a positive one."
— Heidi Schmidt
"CNS offers opportunities and access no one else provided to international nonproliferation organizations."
— Peter O'Meara Evans
"To make a long story short, my education at CNS and MIIS prepared me well for the field of nonproliferation and international security. The combination of academic and professional experience was invaluable and helped me land my first real job in D.C. And for that I am very thankful! I hope you will consider the Monterey Institute and the Center for Nonproliferation Studies for your graduate career."
— Risa Mongiello

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"MIIS offered me a chance to study arms control, disarmament and nonproliferation at a depth matched by few- if any- schools in the world. I particularly benefited from a course on current issues in non-proliferation, taught entirely in Japanese.

"At regular intervals throughout the semester, our Japanese class would meet in a plenary session with other groups taking the same course in Chinese and Russian. Few schools are able to offer such a course in any language. MIIS taught it in three, and had the resources to provide simultaneous interpretation for a truly unique cross-cultural sharing of ideas.

"Equally impressive to me was the Monterey Institute's Arms Control Simulation. For an entire term, our class (including students from Foreign Ministries from around the globe) debated and negotiated a U.S.-Russian arms control agreement to follow the 2002 Moscow Treaty.

"The issues we worked on in that simulation are issues that I now deal with on a day to day basis."
— Charles Mahaffey

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"I wanted to obtain a Certificate in Nonproliferation Studies because it's such an important field and I think that it will be a very big issue in the 21st century. I think that what was most valuable about my time at CNS was the group of amazing people whom I had the opportunity to meet and learn from."
— Hilary Anderson
Heather Burkel chose to obtain a Certificate in Nonproliferation Studies because "nonproliferation is a fascinating field and is something that has great impact on the world." She found "the expertise and connections of the staff, visiting scholars, and other students" at CNS very valuable.
"CNS was a great place to work and study, with great colleagues and resources. I did most of my research for classes in the CNS and Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies libraries. Working with, learning from, and socializing with Ambassador Timerbaev, Elena Kirichenko, Vlad Orlov, Sasha Pikayev, Igor Timofeyev, and Dastan Eleukenov was an invaluable experience.

"Working at CNS introduced me to Laura Holgate, who at the time was the Director and Special Coordinator for Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) at the Department of Defense. She brought me into the CTR office as a Presidential Management Intern and that was the start of my career in the Russia/nonproliferation field in government.

"My work at CNS gave me the strong background in nonproliferation and Russian language/culture issues that allowed me to be competitive with other folks many years my senior. I was able to bring a different perspective that most other government employees do not have (or did not, before the influx of Monterey Institute/CNS graduates invaded Washington, DC!).

"I was able to give short, informal briefings to DOD officials in my chain of command on how a reactor works, or a nuclear weapon design. One of my most memorable experiences at MIIS/CNS was taking the nonproliferation simulation class from Bill (Dr. Potter) in 1994, in which we role-played negotiations between the United States, Russia and Ukraine on the return of Ukraine's nuclear weapons to Russia, compensation for the material in the weapons, etc.

"I was playing the role of the Minister of Atomic Energy, Viktor Mikhailov. Only a few years later, I met Mikhailov in Washington and was in negotiations with his deputies in Moscow! My major accomplishment since graduation from MIIS/CNS has been working in direct negotiations with the Russians, feeling that I was actually making a difference in US-Russian relations."
— Sarah G. J. Lennon (Jacobson)
"If you want to choose nonproliferation as your field, no other research center would benefit you more. The work we do here with students is cutting-edge."
— Kent Jamison
"I have greatly benefited from the expertise in the nuclear and missile area from not only professors and work colleagues but from the guest lectures. I have perhaps been most impressed with the number of young women aspiring in this field, which has in turn given me confidence that I will make it in this male- and military- dominated field."
— Shelby McNichols
"I'm interested in the nuclear issue as a Japanese, and I wanted to study the field at the Monterey Institute." Michiru likes the fact that "CNS is full of people from various countries."
— Michiru Nishida
"I find that my education there was very practical, particularly at hindsight. MIIS/CNS provided me with a solid knowledge basis of arms control, nonproliferation and disarmament matters and taught me useful negotiation skills.

"Plus, the IONP internship at the United Nations Department for Disarmament Affairs' WMD Branch was a unique opportunity to combine theory with practice and to experience the 'real' working world even before graduation.

"Most importantly perhaps, MIIS was able to offer a learning environment that offered individual focus and support that did not end with graduation. The personal and professional connections I established at MIIS and during my internship at the United Nations have been invaluable to my professional development and will continue to be so. I liked the great contacts and support by CNS staff and professors."
— Jenni Rissanen,
External Relations Officer, Geneva Liaison Office, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
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