Thoughts from Singapore

Every year military officers face the end of their obligated service and have to make a decision about what to do with the rest of their lives – this is where I was in 2004.  I was an instructor at HSM-41, and was facing my end of obligated service in 2006 and had to decide what I was going to do.  A number of my fellow instructors had taken MSGL, so I looked into it and decided to enroll.  Little did I know at the time, that decision would shape the rest of my career and ultimately result in me staying in the Navy.

MSGL was a little bit of a culture shock for me, as my undergrad degree was in Aerospace Engineering – not exactly a degree that requires a lot of writing.  Fortunately, I was able to turn on the liberal arts side of my brain, and I graduated from MSGL Cohort 14 in November 2005.  The course opened up new possibilities for me, and I was fairly certain I wanted my future career to be with the State Department or at least involve having an impact on U.S. Foreign Policy.  My fear was the same as most facing leaving the Navy – I would be leaving a very comfortable position as an O-3/O-4 and taking a significant cut in pay and responsibilities to become a desk officer and work my way up in a brand-new system.  Fortunately, the Navy came to the rescue by resurrecting the Foreign Area Officer community.

In 2006 I applied for lateral transfer and successfully transitioned to FAO.  This transition afforded me the opportunity to go to Naval Postgraduate School and earn a second Masters in Regional Security Studies (the FAO community now accepts MSGL as a compatible International Relations Masters degree, but I am not complaining about the extra education – and location!).  Following NPS, I attended the Defense Language Institute for the 50-week course in Mandarin.  I highly recommend DLI for anyone who has the opportunity to attend, however it is without a doubt the most difficult course of study I have ever undertaken.  Of course, I was learning a language that does not have an alphabet, and was already in my mid-30s – and any education expert will tell you learning a language becomes exponentially more difficult the older you get.

After graduation from DLI I was transferred to Singapore, where I am currently stationed at the U.S. Embassy in the Office of Defense Cooperation.  I am in charge of the Navy Programs in Security Cooperation which affords me the opportunity to interact with the Singapore Armed Forces on a daily basis.  Singapore is also a great location from which to see the rest of Southeast Asia, so personal travel is definitely on my agenda during this tour.  The USD Global Leadership conference in Beijing in June 2010 allowed me to reconnect with fellow MSGL alumni, and brush up on my Chinese speaking – always a humbling experience.

MSGL Graduate Stacey Prescott

I truly love where I am living and the job that I am doing, and cannot wait to see what opportunities await.

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