The Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) at West Point recently recognized the research of START students Melissa Meek, Elizabeth Teoman, Emily Greiner and Vaeme Afokpa, inviting them to present at the Third Cadet/Student Conference on Terrorism, Insurgency and Asymmetric Conflicts. The conference was since canceled, but the students remain honored by the recognition they received.
All of the selected students attend or, graduated from the University of Maryland, with the exception of Afokpa, who works with START Researcher Martha Crenshaw at Stanford University.
The START students will participate in a forum focusing on the characteristics, causes and implications of terrorism, in front of an audience of CTC and West Point faculty and experts in terrorism studies. Greiner will present on Somali-American radicalization in the Diaspora and Meek will present a capacity-building proposal for Diyarbakir, Turkey.
"This is a great way for me to enhance my skills in research and presenting," Greiner said. CTC will also publish the students' work in special reports.
Teoman and Greiner are part of START's global terrorism minor, a five-course program inspired by the Minor in Terrorism Studies offered at West Point that explores the origins, motivations and impacts of terrorism on both individuals and communities. The five-course program provides students from all colleges and majors with the education and training needed to pursue fields related to homeland security.
"The minor has allowed me to pursue my interests in culture and conflict via a specific career field," Teoman said, "The Global Terrorism Minor and START completely redirected my college career and I'm all the better for that."
Greiner added, "The minor expanded my knowledge of the subject and allowed me to utilize what I have learned and apply it."
"I would recommend this minor to other students because it offers a wide variety of opportunities outside of class such as notifications about internships, career development meetings, and other events in the D.C. area," she said.
Teoman said that in addition to those immediate opportunities, the global terrorism minor positioned them for future networking opportunities among the other students in the program. Through the minor, Greiner and Teoman had the opportunity to work with prominent researchers, which they say has been beneficial to their understanding of the field and terrorist group behaviors.
Meek got involved with START through the Undergraduate Research Program (URP), which supports five undergraduate students from across the United States each year as they conduct original research. The students conduct research related to the study of terrorism and responses to terrorism, author a research paper, and participate in START's educational enrichment program. To aid their research, URP participants receive a stipend of $1,500 to cover the cost of independent research and professional development opportunities.
"My START experience was excellent, and one of the best experiences I had during college," Meek said.
"I had the opportunity to meet so many different people within the terrorism studies and counterterrorism community, government officials and researchers alike. It was a great networking opportunity and I learned a lot about potential careers."
With START's stipend, Meek traveled to Turkey to interview academics to contribute to her thesis.
Meek said, "It was an opportunity I would not have had without the URP funds, and it allowed me to delve very deeply into my research project and make research contacts that have been instrumental in shaping my academic career since."
To learn more about START's Global Terrorism Minor or Undergraduate Research Program, or to apply, visit http://www.start.umd.edu/education/.
The application deadline for the Minor Program is 5 p.m. Feb. 22.