U.S. Army officer talking to a man that is facing him. Map in distant background with SDSU Graduate Program in Homeland Security Logo.


By Daniel Fry

This Fall, the Homeland Security Graduate Program welcomed its 16th cohort of students on August 11th, 2020. The welcome took place via a digital student orientation. Despite the logistical challenges created by the current COVID-19 pandemic, faculty and students enthusiastically joined together in a productive Zoom video conference to welcome this diverse and promising group of 45 new graduate students. Incoming students, current students, faculty and alumni met via Zoom, continuing the HSEC program’s legacy of professional collaboration between students and faculty.

The HSEC program’s faculty remain one of its greatest strengths, with members who have served in law enforcement, cyber security, practiced law and published numerous works. Among these members is Dr. Steven Andres. He has published five books covering network infrastructure, security and hacking. He is a Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) as well as being certified in FEMA’s National Incident Management System. He is also the founder of Special Ops Security and has appeared on many media programs as a subject matter expert in cyberspace security.

Another faculty member who has made significant contributions to the program is the Co-Director of the HSEC program, Dr. Lance Larson. Dr. Larson is a veteran law enforcement officer with many awards and citations for lifesaving, merit and valor. He is an expert in homeland security, cyber security and has gained much of his experience through years of consulting work with numerous federal agencies. He now focuses much of his considerable expertise on researching security convergence theory, cyber threat analysis and fiber-optic network vulnerabilities. Like Dr. Andres, Dr. Larson is a CEH, CISSP as well as a CompTIA Inet+ Subject Matter Expert.

Under the direction of SDSU HSEC Co-Director Dr. Larson, students were split into synergistic focus groups, pairing incoming graduate students with current HSEC grad students (many of whom are soon to graduate and have already secured or in the hiring process with Federal and other industry-relevant opportunities). Current HSEC grad students, some of whom already serve our nation in police, military and other emergency management capacities, used this time to offer insight into the program as well as course-work and special projects in the upcoming semester.

After small groups concluded, round-table introductions began. Students from Michigan and Connecticut were joined by students from Guam, the United Kingdom, Nigeria and South Korea. Even in the face of this unprecedented global pandemic, HSEC faculty, students and alumni eagerly shared their hopes for this upcoming semester. Internships, inclusivity and camaraderie among the 2020 HSEC student cohort were encouraged.

Since its inception in 2004, the HSEC program has been at the forefront of interdisciplinary curriculum, always striving to effectuate melding of classroom knowledge and real-world experience. Professors, current students and alumni are often industry leaders in Homeland Security, Emergency Response (especially law enforcement), Geological Sciences and Cyber Security.

At this program’s inception, Dr. Eric Frost labored hard to ensure that this program carried collaboration, relevance, inclusivity, innovative technology and other significant goals as hallmarks.

Dr. Larson has made certain to carry on these traditions and promote these qualities within students, faculty and staff. While 2020 brought adverse conditions, the SDSU HSEC staff and faculty remain deeply dedicated to producing and honing individuals who will professionally serve the national security mission of the U.S. and our allies abroad.

The faculty and staff of the Homeland Security Graduate Program welcome the incoming 2020 student cohort and extend a deep appreciation for all who participated. We look forward to continuing to grow and serve together.