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UH President David Lassner, U.S. Director of Intelligence Avril Haines and College of Social Sciences Dean Denise Eby Konan, with College of Social Sciences students

Sixteen students studying national security and intelligence in University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s College of Social Sciences had a rare opportunity to speak and learn from the U.S. Director of Intelligence.

The university hosted a virtual visit with Avril Haines in December 2021, which began with a conversation between Haines and UH President David Lassner, and concluded with a Q&A session with students in an internship course called “USINDOPACOM–UHM Mentoring Program for Intelligence”—a collaboration between UH Mānoa and the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM).

“This partnership positions our students to gain marketable skills and network with leading experts in the field of intelligence,” said College of Social Sciences Dean Denise Eby Konan. “It’s part of Mānoa’s commitment to develop academic pathways to career opportunities, especially in fast-growing job areas in Hawaiʻi and the Pacific.”

To understand this region we need people from this region.
— Avril Haines

UH Mānoa is a Native Hawaiian-serving institution and one of the most ethnically diverse universities in the nation. Haines is prioritizing efforts to increase diversity within the intelligence community, focusing on recruiting and retaining a workforce representative of the U.S.

“The University of Hawaiʻi and your student body, as incredibly diverse as it is, and geographically where you’re located, you bring perspectives that we need,” Haines said. “We absolutely have to understand this (Asia-Pacific) region. And to understand this region we need people from this region and we need to be able to tap into your understanding of the area so that we can absorb that as we try to provide the intelligence picture to our customers.”

Haines answered questions from students ranging from the intelligence community’s role in promoting U.S. President Joe Biden’s goal of promoting democratic ideals around the world to the U.S. strategic competition with China through a humanitarian, military and economic viewpoint. She also outlined career opportunities for those interested in joining the intelligence community.

To view the entire event, visit the College of Social Sciences YouTube page.

For more on Haines’ virtual visit, see the Office of the Director of National Intelligence website.

This event is an example of UH Mānoa’s goals of Enhancing Student Success (PDF) and Excellence in Research: Advancing the Research and Creative Work Enterprise (PDF), two of four goals identified in the 2015–25 Strategic Plan (PDF), updated in December 2020.

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