First Master of Homeland Security Graduate Shares His Take on the Program
William Prichard has the hands-on experience that comes to mind when you think “homeland security professional.” He’s spent years dedicated to saving lives. He has worked for the US Air Force and the US Army in various roles. He evaluated, planned, and ran training courses that were high stress, high risk, and high consequence – there was little room for error.
“Mistakes have the potential to seriously kill not only ourselves, but those we’re charged to protect,” he says.
William became even more devoted to saving lives and conducting trainings after he experienced a life-threatening accident of his own. He shattered his spine in 2010 during an ice climbing training session. Following that injury, he was in a wheelchair and endured months of rehab as he learned to walk again. The majority of his time was spent in San Antonio, at the Brooke Army Medical Center’s Center for the Intrepid.
“It was a struggle to return to my prior skill level and mental capabilities but I believe I am a more complete individual and instructor for it,” he says.
He is now back to 90% of his former capability, and runs training courses and rescue clinics for up and coming climbers, river rescue and other types of guides seeking advancement.
Though already a motivated individual, William was even more so following his accident. Thus, he was intrigued by the opportunity presented to him when he met Bob Lally, University Director of Homeland Security. The two had many conversations about CTU’s Master of Homeland Security degree program, then in the pilot stages. When the opportunity to enroll presented itself, William says, he jumped at the chance to make a larger impact on national safety both inside and outside U.S. borders.
William is a member of the inaugural graduating class for CTU’s Master of Homeland Security program, which is one only a few of its kind in the United States. The program was created to meet the need for highly trained homeland security professionals who not only have the hands-on skills necessary to handle emergencies, but also the critical thinking and strategic skills necessary to lead.
Though he himself is strongly devoted to training, William knows that the most important part of any Homeland Security endeavor is the group effort. No single person is strong enough to withstand threats alone, he says. Thus, leaders must be committed and able to inspire the same level of commitment from citizens and organizations in their community.
“I do not believe this program is for everyone,” William explained. “Though it has profound value on a variety of career avenues, a Master’s degree in Homeland Security should be for individuals that aspire to make the world a safer place, choose to embed themselves in safety and risk management activities, look for opportunities to improve threat identification and reduction, and inherently carry a large sphere of awareness.”
William is correct – the program is not for everyone. The selective admissions process requires candidates to have at least 5 years of experience working in homeland security, as well as a minimum 3.0 GPA in a bachelor's program, among other criteria.
William is continuing his training through FEMA and the Emergency Management Institute, and hopes to eventually enroll in a Ph.D. program. His ultimate goal is to continue his education and work in the homeland security sector with FEMA, State and Federal Bureaus, and private sector organizations.
Do you think you’re the right person for the Master of Homeland Security program? Share what you think it takes to be a success in the field.