Gerard Conklin

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Gerard Conklin

2016 Graduate | Force Protection Officer, Triple Canopy

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From Military Service to Political Hopeful

While he earned his teaching degree in the late 1990s, Gerard Conklin was compelled to dedicate himself to public service following the events of September 11. Trading the classroom for the military, it was a commitment that would see him spend the following decade stationed in Iraq and Korea, as well as at major U.S. military bases like Fort Benning.

He left active duty in 2011 to join the National Guard, and began to consider new ways to apply the skills he earned through his years of service. Knowing that whatever career path he chose would likely benefit from additional education, Gerard began researching different online programs and was inspired by the curriculum offered by the political management master’s degree from George Washington University.

“Serving in the military I feel like I’ve been very involved in politics, and wanted to see how I could make an impact here at home,” he says. “What attracted me to George Washington is that it is a very prestigious school with a great background in education for government. I talked to an advisor about different aspects of the program, and there were different areas of focus you could go into –– electoral politics, advocacy politics and applied proficiencies –– all of which I found really interesting.”

After being accepted at George Washington, Gerard found that the quality and depth of the online graduate program extended beyond course offerings to the level of support students were able to receive. Through the online experience he had educators who were very accommodating by helping him adjust to the format, submit assignments and achieve success in his courses.

Gerard graduated in the fall of 2016 and is applying the leadership skills he learned in the program to a career with Triple Canopy, a provider of risk management and operational support services. Working as a force protection officer, he handles security and investigations for both government and commercial clients. He also hopes to return to public service in the coming years by pursuing a role in
local politics.

“I’d like to start out at the state representative level,” he says. “As a political management student I always wanted to know the ins and outs of campaigning. How to handle fundraising, how to do direct mail and direct calling, and how to best get out there with your constituency. Running a campaign is my end goal, and when I do have that privilege I hope people see in my profile that I attended George Washington. I think there’s an instant recognition and credibility that comes with
that distinction.”

“Everyone is so willing to work with you and help you out. They want you to do well online, and if a situation ever came up, teachers and advisors would do everything they could to help you out. I thought that level of attention was amazing.”

– Gerard Conklin