28 Graduate from CHDS Master’s Program

Led by Outstanding Thesis Award and Curtis “Butch” Straub Achievement Award winner Christopher Huhn, 28 homeland security professionals earned Center for Homeland Defense and Security Master’s of Arts Degrees in Security Studies in a graduation ceremony in King Auditorium at the Naval Postgraduate School on Friday, March 24. 

Master’s Program cohort 2105/2106 included a range of federal, regional, state, and local agency representatives from law enforcement, fire, emergency management, and other disciplines in the homeland security enterprise. 

Outstanding Thesis Award and Curtis “Butch” Straub Achievement Award winner Christopher Huhn

Huhn, a Minnesota Commerce Fraud Bureau Supervisory Special Agent from St. Paul, MN, won the cohort’s Outstanding Thesis Award for his thesis entitled “Laundering Love: A Multi-Case Analysis of the Evolution of Romance Scam Victims into Co-Offending Money Mules.” 

He was also named the Straub Award winner for classroom leadership. 

Huhn said his thesis was the result of a “large group effort,” noting that it “took a lot of people to get it across the finish line” including everyone from thesis advisors to his family. 

He said he has worked with romance scam victims as part of his job and noted they can end up being both a crime victim and perpetrator, and said he wanted to explore how that occurs. 

As for the Straub Award, Huhn said it was “very humbling” and he “looked forward to paying it forward” by encouraging others. 

Mark Carr Esprit De Corps Award winners Shruti Dhapodkar (left) and Katherine Norris (right)

The cohort’s Mark Carr Esprit De Corps Award winners were San Mateo County, CA, Deputy Medical Health Operational Area Coordinator Shruti Dhapodkar, for the 2105 section, and South Carolina Emergency Management Division Deputy Chief of Recovery and Mitigation Katherine Norris. 

The Carr Award recognizes students whose actions instilled, sustained, and created a spirit of unity and pride within the cohort. 

Dhapodkar, who also recently graduated from the CHDS Executive Leaders Program (ELP cohort 1902), said the Master’s cohort was “very unique” in how people were chosen and how they showed up for the program, noting that the cohort “really jelled incredibly and had each others’ backs.” 

She said she chose to apply for the Master’s Program because her ELP experience, while enjoyable, was truncated by the restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic, and she said she was “really grateful” to be accepted to the Master’s Program.  

Dhapodkar said she was surprised to receive the Carr Award, and said she was told it was due to her being a “silent leader,” adding “I do believe in servant leadership” and providing a “nurturing presence.”

Master’s Program cohort 2105/2106

Norris noted that the cohort started the Master’s Program right after most COVID-19 restrictions were lifted and the program was “the first thing most of us did outside our jobs” since the start of the pandemic, adding that it was an outstanding “opportunity, professionally and personally.” 

She described the cohort as a “complicated gumbo” of people from different agencies and backgrounds, providing a “good foil and counterbalance.” And, she said she has reason to believe the cohort was the “closest one ever.”

Norris said she believes she was named the Carr Award winner because in a cohort full of top leaders she tried to provide “empathy” and emotional intelligence,” including telling her fellow cohortians that the program was “objectively hard and you’re right to feel challenged.” 

CHDS Master’s Program Cohort 2105/2106 

  • Jared Babin, DHS/TSA, El Paso, TX  
  • Evan Balcombe, FDNY, New York, NY  
  • James Bassett, Oakland Police Department, Oakland, CA  
  • Colin Burress, Memphis Fire Department, Memphis, TN  
  • Liam Cawley, New York City Police Department, New York, NY  
  • Thomas Chin, City of Cupertino, Cupertino, CA  
  • Shruti Dhapodkar, San Mateo County, Redwood City, CA  
  • Christopher Dorsey, Metropolitan Police Department, Washington, DC  
  • William Elliott, United States Secret Service, District of Columbia, DC  
  • Laura Hill, California Highway Patrol, Santa Clarita, CA  
  • Andrew Horos, Washington DC Metropolitan Police Department, Washington, DC  
  • Christopher Huhn, Minnesota Commerce Fraud Bureau, Saint Paul, MN  
  • Michael Matthews, Department of Homeland Security, Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency, Reno, NV  
  • Madison Miller, Missouri State Highway Patrol, Jefferson City, MO  
  • Jonathan Moritz, FDNY, Nanuet, NY  
  • Katie Norris, South Carolina Emergency Management Division, Columbia, SC  
  • Elizabeth O’Malley, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Refugee Asylum and International Ops Division, Washington, DC  
  • Susan Papatrefon, Southeastern Arizona Communications (SEACOM), Sierra Vista, AZ  
  • Steven Patterson, West Virginia Fusion Center, Charleston, WV  
  • Steven Ramos, California Highway Patrol, San Francisco, CA  
  • Nicolas Riddall, Los Angeles City Fire Department, Los Angeles, CA  
  • Sashi Sabaratnam, University of California Cooperative Extension/County of Sonoma, Santa Rosa, CA  
  • Joseph Sembler, New Jersey State Police, Hamilton, NJ  
  • Eric Shipman, Chicago Federal Reserve, Chicago, IL  
  • Jason Strickland, TSA LE/FAMS, Chantilly, VA  
  • Emily von Werlhof, DHS/USCIS, Bethpage, NY  
  • Daniel White, Denver Police Department, Denver, CO  
  • Kirsten Whitehead, DHS/USCIS, Baltimore, MD

INQUIRIES: Heather Hollingsworth Issvoran, Communications and Recruitment | hissvora@nps.edu, 831-402-4672 (PST)

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