Batten Student Advises Policymakers on Security Issues

Maggie Sparling, who graduated May 21 from the University of Virginia with majors in history and economics, is in a public policy master’s program in the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy.

This spring, she was in Fiji as part of the National Bureau of Asian Research’s Pacific Islands Strategic Dialogue, supported by the U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency, where she spoke to policymakers and academics from the U.S., Australia and the Melanesian countries (Fiji, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, New Caledonia and Papua New Guinea). She addressed the future direction of military and security affairs in Melanesia with her work focused on the future of U.S. relations and Chinese activity in the region.

Sparling is part of growing number of women working in national security fields, and she already is mentoring younger women interested in the work.

“Since 2018, roughly 250 undergraduate and graduate students have taken Innovating for Defense, and I’m convinced that Maggie Sparling is the best team lead – and leader – I’ve seen in those five years,” said John Robinson, director of academic programs with the National Security Policy Center at the Batten School. “She is a rare young person who possesses exceptional intellectual and academic ability, but also the stamina, grit and desire to do the hard work of leading and helping others.”

Garrett Hall at Sunset

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