While obtaining a federal security clearance requires citizenship, and becoming a U.S. citizen is the clear path for individuals who come to America and seek to pursue a government career, path to citizenship doesn’t affect one’s ability to pursue giving back through federal service or a national security career. And for some individuals, in fact, having moved to the U.S. from abroad only increases their desire to give back through their career path.

Alethea Duhon, associate director for analysis at the National Risk Management Center, the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency, describes how her passion for aerospace engineering and her desire to give back to the U.S. converged to take her on her current career path with NRMC.

“My interest in becoming an aerospace engineer stemmed from the fascination when I was a young 14-year-old watching aircrafts and building my own model airplane,” said Duhon. “Then I moved onto the real thing which was ground and flight school at 16. That propelled me into the engineering community.”

While her passions started with planes and aerospace, she quickly transitioned into considering how her passion for engineering could transition into a passion for policy. That, in turn, led to a variety of positions supporting the federal government.

“I’ve always been fascinated with solving complex problems,” said Duhon. “Because I started with flight testing and flight dynamics, the traditional engineering route, but then I moved onto the Pentagon classic policy work. It might not be a traditional career path, but it’s made me what I am today.”

That non-traditional career path included coming onto the job, as a naturalized citizen. Duhon notes that her background enhances her ability to support NRMC. The thought diversity across her team helps them to better address problems.

“I see myself as a small piece of the puzzle, and I want to be a part of the solution,” said Duhon. “It is a team effort at the end of the day, and we all want to be in this together.”

Because the job of the NRMC is to analyze and consider consequences and ‘cascading affects,’ that thought diversity is critical. No two individuals will approach a problem in quite the same way – and having different perspectives, including those of naturalized citizens, adds a critical diversity of experience.

“The NRMC works closely with our critical infrastructure partners to address significant risks to the nation,” said Duhon. “Think of us as the nation’s risk advisors.”

If you’ve been working in the private sector and you wonder if a government career is a path for you, path to citizenship shouldn’t be a factor preventing you from pursuing your passion. If you’re looking for a career where you can contribute, give back, and readily see the impact of the work you’re doing today, consider a career with CISA.

“There is never a dull moment at CISA,” said Duhon. “We live in an ever-changing world. Things happen. What we have is how adapt we are and how flexible we are to address them.”


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