Alumni Testimonials

Laura Heller

Master of Arts in Diplomacy
, Class of 2014
The proficiency, commitment, and diversity of the faculty and administration are unparalleled. Every member of the Norwich staff demonstrated real dedication to support and assist students in the graduate program, wherever located throughout the world and despite associated logistical hurdles.
Laura Heller, Class of 2014
Master of Arts in Diplomacy
International Conflict Management

Q: “Tell us a bit about yourself, Laura.”

A:  “I am a civilian attorney at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, and a U.S. Army Reserve judge advocate living in New York’s scenic and historic Hudson Valley. In my off-duty time, I enjoy kayaking, yoga, and spending time with family and friends.”

Q: “What is your current employer and briefly describe your professional life.”

A:  “I am an attorney-advisor at the U.S. Military Academy where my portfolio of practice is focused on government ethics, fiscal law, trademark, copyright, and technology transfer. I am currently a Major in the U.S. Army Reserve, having served a total of 15 years (approximately 10 active duty) and deployed four times to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo. My experience as a judge advocate is concentrated in international law, detention operations, and fiscal law.”

Q: “What was your motivation for pursuing your degree?”

A: “The diplomacy program added depth to my academic and professional experience as an Army lawyer. Upon completion of the program, I have a solid understanding of the broader theoretical, historical, and doctrinal foundations of diplomacy and international relations. The concentration in international conflict management, in particular, provided a focused curriculum on that area of international relations and international law, which informs our nation’s foreign policy.”

Q: “Why did you choose Norwich and how did you learn about it?”

A: “Norwich facilitates a flexible, self-paced, virtual learning environment – especially valuable for working professionals – while sustaining an outstanding reputation as a reputable brick and mortar university. It’s standing among the military community, in particular, is exceptional.” 

Q: “What makes Norwich unique?”

A:  “The proficiency, commitment, and diversity of the faculty and administration are unparalleled. Every member of the Norwich staff demonstrated real dedication to support and assist students in the graduate program, wherever located throughout the world and despite associated logistical hurdles. When unanticipated health concerns potentially interfered with my participation, Norwich staff and faculty responded quickly with achievable solutions.”

Q: “Please describe any memorable experiences with faculty members or members of your cohort.”

A: “Whether collaborating in the virtual classroom or on-campus during Residency, my cohort enjoyed great camaraderie, despite geographical distances and differences in time zones. I expect the connections I made in the program to benefit me personally and professional for a long time to come.”

Q: “How have you grown personally or professionally as a result of your education?”

A:  “Almost 20 years after my last non-military academic experience, the diplomacy program challenged me to think, write, and connect like a scholar. From posting responses to weekly discussion questions to working together on team exercises and drafting 20-page research papers, my experience at Norwich provided the knowledge and tools necessary to transition to new professional opportunities.”

Q: “Please tell us about any examples where you were able to put your knowledge to work immediately at your job.”

A: “My initial intent on completing of the diplomacy program was narrow – to transition from the Department of Defense to Department of State and augment my professional experience with academic credentials. Over the program’s 18 months – having recognized the broader value of my Norwich education – I expanded my long-term goals to effect an even great transition – from the daily practice of law to a university environment where I can teach students that area of international relations where international law shapes foreign policy.”

Q: “What aspects of your Norwich experience will you carry most strongly with you?”

A: “Norwich’s guiding principle – “Expect Challenge, Achieve Distinction” – has been instilled into every aspect of my professional and personal performance. Completion of the program itself brought about both challenge and achievement. Completion of the program while working full-time and juggling personal commitments exponentially increased related challenges and achievement. Looking back on the program while at residency confirmed the sense of satisfaction; the diplomacy program was one of my life’s more rewarding experiences overall.”