Tori Davis ’09 never imagined that her Honors Program thesis at Elon would lead her into a career in the field of counterterrorism.
While at Elon, Tori majored in political science and international studies. She also studied Japanese. Her Honors thesis, which she completed under the tutelage of political science professor Laura Roselle, examined American, British and Japanese diplomatic strategy before and after the Sept. 11 attacks.
That thesis later served as the basis for what would become her Fullbright grant project, as part of which she spent a year at Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan, researching the Japanese government's rhetorical justifications for dispatching the Japanese Self Defense Forces for counter-terrorism missions as opposed to peacekeeping missions. She later obtained a master’s in international relations at the University of St Andrews in Scotland.
"I learned how to identify, design and execute a self-directed, complex research agenda," she says of her thesis work with Roselle. Even more, those self-directed research skills she aquired also allowed her to successfully complete her Fulbright and masters theses.
Now a security operations analyst with Systems Planning and Analysis Inc. (SPA), a security contractor based in Washington, D.C. that works with government agencies on national defense and homeland security programs, Tori is confident that much of what she has accomplished today has been thanks to the Elon Honors program.
“Everything I’ve done kind of started from that thesis,” she says. “You can connect the dots.”
She says that one of the most valuable skills she gained from being in the Honors Program was critical thinking.
“Professors after Elon and employers have commented on that – how thankful they are that I think critically,” she adds.
She points to SURF and the many opportunities students have to present at conferences. These kinds of experiences give you the skills to be ready for the real word, she says, adding that the Honors Program also helps build confidence and work ethics, nurturing both academic and professional needs.
She’s a living example of that. Though she had never done security analysis before joining SPA, she says the confidence she gained from being in the Honors Program allowed her to do her own research and command trust from others around her.
“It’s more than academics. It’s a holistic program; it’s life training,” Tori says. “I know that sounds cliché but it’s true.”
So what’s next for Tori? “I’d like to get a Ph.D. and do something in the area of foreign affairs.”
To read about the accomplishments of other Honors alumni, click here.