The Notre Dame International Security Center is extremely proud of all our alumni. We would like to take the opportunity to spotlight one of our alumna Emma Morrison ‘19. While at Notre Dame, Emma completed an internship with the House Committee on Armed Services and continued her work there as a Policy Clerk after graduation. Back on campus, Emma was a co-founder and the President of the Women in International Security Club.
Emma is now the Associate Director of Research and Analysis at the Defense Panel of the Special Competitive Studies Project. Let’s learn more about Emma and her experiences in her own words.
First, where are you from and what led you to attend Notre Dame for your Bachelor's degree? Why did you decide to pursue a political science degree?
I grew up in Westchester County, NY about an hour north of New York City. I knew I wanted to go to a school where I could focus on my academic interests. My grandfather, who lives outside of Chicago, suggested I visit Notre Dame and when I did, I fell in love with the school. Beyond the beautiful campus, the students I interacted with really made it clear how wonderful the school is.
Initially, I intended on being a pre-med and history major, but I quickly decided that being a doctor wasn't the right path for me. I toyed with the idea of many other majors, but what remained constant was my interest in history. I took Professor John Deak’s and Professor Sebastian Rosato's co-taught history and political science course "Europe at War" during my first semester at Notre Dame. Beyond being a fantastic course complete with plenty of witty banter between the two professors, it also introduced me to political science as a discipline and I realized that it was the field I wanted to pursue. Taking Professor Lindley's course on "U.S. Foreign Policy" the next year cemented that political science was what I wanted to study, and I never looked back.
How did you discover NDISC? What about the program spoke to you, ultimately leading you to earn the certification?
Professor Lindley first introduced me to NDISC my sophomore year during the U.S Foreign Policy course, before the NDISC undergraduate fellowship program had fully taken shape. As part of the course, we were encouraged to attend NDISC lectures.
I connected to the material being discussed having always had an interest in international security—my grandfather is a Marine veteran who served in Vietnam, and he and his service have always been an influence in my life. Having grown up close to New York City, 9/11 also influenced who I am. So, when the certificate program was developed, I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of and applied with the encouragement of Professor Lindley.
You interned in the House Committee on Armed Services, then after graduating, you went back there full-time. How would you describe your role there?
I was lucky enough to have an internship with HASC the summer after my junior year. My senior year, a mentor of mine reached out to tell me he was leaving HASC to begin a new job. He encouraged me to apply for his role as the Policy Clerk on HASC and I did, and started the role soon after graduation. As the Policy Clerk, I worked directly with the policy team on matters relating to international security. I assisted the professional staff members with their work, serving as a cross between a research assistant and an administrative assistant. A large part of my responsibilities was helping to coordinate hearings and briefings for the full committee and supporting the creation of the National Defense Authorization Act each year.
You're now the Associate Director of Research and Analysis at the Defense Panel of the Special Competitive Studies Project. How do you apply what you know about both political science and International Security in your current role?
My current role, more than any previous role, has prompted me to refer to the materials I was first introduced to through my political science and NDISC education. Our project calls for a strong knowledge of the fundamentals of strategy, and the relevant literature which I gained from my time as a political science major and NDISC fellow.
What would you tell a first-year student at Notre Dame who is considering enrollment in NDISC?
Enroll! In NDISC, I found the support and encouragement I needed to begin a career I love, the knowledge and experiences I rely on, and friendships that have lasted long after my time in the program. Also, reach out to the NDISC alums, we're out here doing cool stuff and would love to talk and help any way we can!
We are incredibly proud of the work that Emma has done, both while a student at Notre Dame and in the time since her graduation. If you are interested in joining NDISC, contact us today!