Graduate profiles

See how some of our graduates have benefited from studying at the Centre for Defence and Security Studies.

Jordan Taumaa

Jordan Taumaa

BA (Defence Studies) with honours  

In 2011, having just left high school, I enrolled for the BA Defence Studies. My study proved to be an incredible opportunity for me to gain invaluable insight into what might often be considered the mysterious world of defence and security, without the immediate commitment to a defence service or security agency.

The undergraduate programme offered by the CDSS is unique within New Zealand. The quality of the course material was excellent and the content was exciting.  The lecturers included a mix of academics and personnel who have had distinguished careers in the defence and security services.  They offered a wealth of knowledge that enabled me to reach my full potential.

On par with classroom lectures was the distance learning offered by the CDSS. The content and resources available were substantial, and the lecturers were consistently supportive of me so that I could achieve academic success.

Upon completion of the BA Defence Studies programme I recognised that I was well equipped to begin a career; however I opted to continue with honours study and I continued to learn and thrive in the university environment.  I wanted to pursue my academic interest in terrorism, but had previously thought that this interest could not be pursued academically from within New Zealand, however I was proved wrong.

The main contrast between the undergraduate degree and the Honours programme was the thesis component.  My research skills improved immeasurably from undergraduate level, but I knew that I could gain further from postgraduate study.

Master of International Security

In 2015, I fulfilled the requirements of a Master of International Security with my thesis researching "How Radicalisation Occurs in Western Societies".  The Master of International Security caters for both civilian, defence and security professionals with a combination of research and real-world experience. CDSS has several external relationships with organisations across New Zealand, and the MIntlSy aims to place students (like myself) into organisations that can best cater for their research interests to complete an internship.

A key challenge upon concluding my studies, and one faced by many graduates, was obtaining employment.  However the internship programme is fantastic for ‘getting your foot in the door’ and becoming recognised in the real world of defence and security, whilst allowing you to demonstrate to a potential employment agency that your research skills can really benefit their organisation.

My five years studying with CDSS was always positive.  During job interviews interviewers frequently commented on the academic programmes offered by the CDSS with praise.  I began my study with little but an interest, and now I have a fulfilling security career that I will begin later this year. 

As a young adult, I would encourage school leavers to seize the opportunity and enrol in a CDSS programme today if the papers interest you.  For those unsure about a career in the defence and security services, I advise beginning with some papers to get a better idea if this is for you.  You will have a rewarding experience.

Carrie Drake

Carrie Drake Graduation

Master of International Security

Carrie Drake graduated with a Master of International Security in May 2017.  For her Masters research report, she investigated the social harms from cannabis (aka marijuana, pot, weed, grass, dope) by interviewing police in countries where the drug is legally available. Her findings come amid public debate about possible law change in New Zealand.

She previously gained a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in English and Russian from Canterbury University, and afterwards she worked for 10 years in police and government intelligence.  She currently has a role in training and leadership at the Royal Police College and was requested by the National Drug Intelligence Bureau, a multi-agency group hosted by the New Zealand Police in their National Intelligence Centre, to undertake the research.

Her study aimed to find out what preventive measures are effective in countries where cannabis is legalised, to help inform and prepare New Zealand Police of likely outcomes if cannabis is legalised here. She found that cannabis causes social harm regardless of its legal status, including as a factor in criminal and gang activity, in road accidents and in the mental health of younger users from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Carrie has presented her research at the Australasian Drug and Alcohol Strategy Conference in Wellington earlier in 2017.

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