Katelin M. Wright, Senior Immigration Services Officer III – U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS)

Continuous learning and critical thinking are two of my passions. That is why I decided early on in my career with USCIS that one of my goals was to eventually be accepted and attend the Master’s Program at the Center for Homeland Defense and Security (CHDS). What I did not expect is just how much I would also gain from the program outside of the academic realm. First and foremost, my classmates became lifelong friends. I remember thinking how cliche that sounded when past alumni told our class that in our first week of school, but it absolutely became the truth. Second, I learned how to be resilient in a new way. During my time in the program, I worked full-time, served two details as acting supervisor, and helped my local USCIS office maneuver its way into a new normal under COVID as part of my collateral duties as emergency management coordinator and safety officer. Along the way, I also found my writing voice and discovered a whole new future career path I had never considered before: academic writing. Thus, my perspective on my professional and personal ambitions also changed Ultimately, upper mobility no longer means success to me. I now see I can be just as effective in my current position while also continuing to pursue the work I started with my thesis. In fact, I have since been asked by CHDS professors to expand on my findings and submit further academic articles. Whereas, at DHS I have had upper management reach out to me about my thesis topic and providing a possible overview of my findings to HQ leadership. All and all, my experience at CHDS far surpassed my expectations. Now as an alum, I find that I not only want to hold onto the many connections I have made throughout this program but also build on them while also giving back by helping recruit new students to CHDS.