H-PSSS First Female Spotlight: Jolene & the Doctorate of Strategic Security


Jolene is the first female to graduate with her Doctor of Strategic Security degree from Henley-Putnam School of Strategic Security.

We are celebrating National Women’s History Month by spotlighting the First Females of Henley-Putnam School of Strategic Security. This honor is bestowed on the first women to earn their specific degree within the specialized strategic security programs offered by H-PSSS. Even though the intelligence and strategic security industries have grown over the years, the presence of women in these positions is virtually nonexistent.

Henley-Putnam alumna Jolene A. is the first woman to earn her Doctor of Strategic Security from H-PSSS, where she previously earned her master’s in Terrorism and Counterterrorism. We had the pleasure of interviewing her about her experience at Henley-Putnam.

Were most of the members of your class men?

Yes, most of my doctoral classmates were men. I think I was the only woman in 90% of my classes.

What is your current occupation?

I am an assistant professor at a small university in Central Pennsylvania. I am still in the military, so I am a military sciences professor and the military historian as well. On top of that, I am a mom of a little boy, anda head coach of men’s and women’s rugby team at the university. I keep my schedule packed.

What is your next career goal?

With my military career winding down, I chose to go back into teaching because it is one of my passions. Additionally, it helps my spouse’s career being in this location of the United States. For me, my military career will end in retirement in a few short years. I am really looking to transition into a civilian-sector job in the strategic security environment. As we all know, that centers around D.C. metro area.

Were all of your Master’s and Doctorate classes at H-PSSS online?

It’s a funny story actually how I found Henley-Putnam and this program. I was a brand-new lieutenant at Fort Bragg and my friend Carol and I were reading Army Times and saw an ad for Henley-Putnam. She was interested in intel and I was interested in terrorists. From that ad, both of us jumped on the master’s program early on. During the last year of my master’s program, the doctoral program opened. They asked if I wanted to transfer my studies into the doctoral program, but I decided it was in my best interest to finish my master’s first then go into the doctoral program. It didn’t help that I was in the middle of Iraq, but it was very beneficial to have my classes online. In between my duties and the time difference, I was able to submit my homework – sometimes late, but turned in. I got some extra turn-in cushion for some of my projects.  The online classes suited my career and suited my life at the time. I have no regrets.

Did the faculty work with you while you were deployed?

Sometimes I had to reach out to my professors saying, “We had communications blackouts for the past week so I couldn’t submit my assignment.” In one class, on autonomic responses, I had to submit a video of myself talking, and I could only send it in 10-second bites. It ended up being 32 files. I was like, “Sorry, I’m using the internet in Iraq.”

What was it like earning your degree while oversees?

Some people watch movies, and some people hang out and drink coffee. I was one of the nerds in my tent typing away at my computer completing my online education.

What did you think of the faculty at H-PSSS?

All the professors in those degree programs are subject-matter experts in their career fields. Even though we might be in different disciplines, we all speak the same language. They understand why you might be late on an assignment. I was able to talk to them while I was deployed and when I worked at West Point and taught courses myself. During our correspondence, I could get not only academic advice, but career advice. It makes the experience more personable, and now I can fill that mentorship role that I got while earning my master’s.

Any advice for other H-PSSS students?

To the other ladies and gentlemen out there, I wish you luck in your doctoral studies. Sometimes life happens but continue working towards your goal. The faculty and staff at H-PSSS and NAU will help you through those trials and challenges.


Watch Jolene’s full video below!

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