Mike Welken, an alumnus of the Master of International Affairs and Administration program, now the Global Studies Graduate program, is a senior analyst for the Defense Intelligence Agency at the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM), Joint Intelligence Operations Center.
While Welken’s graduate studies greatly contributed to his success in a career with a government agency, his journey to Missouri State is one that almost didn’t happen.
Welken had not planned to attend graduate school, but when his college debate coach, a Missouri State alum, told him about a professor in the political science department who was as expert in his area of interest, he decided he should explore the option.
After a brief visit, Welken, who has an undergraduate degree in East Asian Studies, knew that the University was the perfect fit for him. “I met Dr. Hickey who was an utter inspiration as someone who I could work close to and better understand China-Taiwan dynamics.”
The political science department provided Welken with a wide array of skills essential to success in a career in government. “Many programs focus on one segment of international affairs. What is unique about MSU is that the course requirements span multiple regions and functions of the field, which built a solid foundation for working in national security,” he said.
Graduate assistantships with both Student Organization Funding Allocation Council (SOFAC) and the political science department financially funded Welken’s education, as well as allowed him to take on a leadership role and learn from his mentors.
As a senior analyst for PACOM, Welken serves as a key intelligence community resource for intelligence planning. “I am involved in research surrounding the China-Taiwan issue set and conducting national level coordination relating to bilateral military-to-military relations with a key partner in the Pacific,” he said.
Prior to his position with PACOM, Welken was a research assistant at the National Strategic Gaming Center at the National Defense University in Washington, DC.
“My work at the National Strategic Gaming Center focused on exercise development and facilitation for national security contingencies in order to promote improved interagency collaboration,” said Welken.
Welken was responsible for developing exercises and scenarios across a wide array of national security issue sets spanning from infectious diseases to counter narcotics and stabilization/recovery missions.
Transitioning into different government positions is something that Welken is well prepared for thanks to the variety of courses he was able to take in his graduate program. “Complementing courses in organizational management and personnel policies sharpened the curriculum in such a manner to easily function within a government workplace,” he said.
During his time in the program Welken developed relationships that now transcend into the partnerships he manages between governments. “Strong interaction with faculty and opportunities to work alongside undergraduate students with counterparts from around the globe only increased the benefits I derived from study at MSU."