Twenty-six students earn Master of Arts in Security Studies from NPS-CHDS

CHDS students proceeding towards King Auditorium. (Photo courtesy of CHDS)

The Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) Summer Quarter Graduation Ceremony on September 27 included twenty-six homeland security professionals who completed a Master of Arts degree in Security Studies from the NPS Center for Homeland Defense and Security (CHDS).

U.S. Navy Vice Admiral Tim Szymanski, Deputy Commander, U.S. Special Operations Command, served as the featured speaker. The ceremony included over 290 NPS students in all. University president retired Vice Admiral Ann Rondeau delivered opening remarks that highlighted contributions from faculty, staff, and students.

Katelyn Mason, Jason Lyon, Harley Lenart, Joshua Gilbert, and Martin Braun with Lenart’s K-9. (Photo courtesy of CHDS)

The twenty-six CHDS students participating in the graduation ceremony represent a snapshot of the homeland security enterprise, including professionals from the fields of emergency management, education, law enforcement, fire service, homeland security, public health, and city/county government (see list below). Graduating student Dione Neely summarized the experience by stating, “Thank you to the entire CHDS faculty and staff for their guidance and encouragement and making this an unforgettable educational experience!”

Paula Maxson, Ana Lalley, Kevin McMahan, and Svetlana Angert. (Photo courtesy of CHDS)

Located at the Naval Postgraduate School, CHDS is the nation’s homeland security educator. Master’s degree students develop critical thinking, leadership and policy skills during a rigorous 18-month program. Each graduate completes a thesis on a current issue facing his or her jurisdiction. These theses often translate into policy and practice. CHDS is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) National Preparedness Directorate, within the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). For more information, visit

ABOUT NPS: The mission of the Naval Postgraduate School is to provide unique advanced education and research programs in order to increase the combat effectiveness of the U.S. and Allied armed forces as well as enhance the security of the United States. For additional information, visit

Three students received special recognition:

  • Outstanding Thesis Award: Dione Neely, Assistant to the Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Secret Service. Her thesis was titled, “Level the Playing Field: Are Law Enforcement Policies and Practices Rigged Against Women and Mothers?” The award is based on academic rigor and the quality of the literature review, analysis and conclusions as well as writing and overall presentation of the thesis. Neely added, “My thesis is about a pattern I saw in my 27 years of law enforcement experience. My female colleagues across federal, state and local law enforcement agencies were leaving the jobs they love well before retirement. I saw a pattern and a systemic problem. CHDS gave me an opportunity to explore this problem in the form of a thesis.”
  • Curtis “Butch” Straub Award: Jason Lyon, Battalion Chief, Billings (MT) Fire Department. His thesis was titled, “Convergence, Guns, and the Public Safety Response.” The award is presented in honor and memory of one of CHDS’ founders.
  • Mark Carr Esprit De Corps Award: Robert Duncan (1801) and Jason Lyon (1802). Duncan’s thesis was titled, “Adopting Immunological Metaphors in Cybersecurity Applications.” The Mark Carr Esprit De Corps Award and is named in honor of a former CHDS student who passed in August 2014.


Naval Postgraduate School Center for Homeland Defense and Security
Master’s Degree Program, cohort 1801/1802

Master’s Degree Cohort 1801/1802 stands for a group shot on graduation day, September 27, 2019. (Photo by Javier Chagoya/PAO)