The number—19—didn’t quite make a platoon, but it was more than a squad when the first two cohorts of Marine Corps officers earning master’s degrees at the Schar School of Policy and Government met in October for the first time over lunch at the Army-Navy Country Club in Arlington, Va.
The officers—captains and majors—included the first woman selected for the Marine Corps Congressional Fellows program, as well as the first soon-to-be graduate.
The officers were selected after a rigorous application process to enroll in the Master’s in Public Policy program, which provides the fellows with the skills in policymaking and analysis necessary for understanding and solving critical problems. The members of the first cohort, which began course work in Summer 2018, are serving as legislative assistants to members of Congress as part of their program requirements. That duty will fall on the second cohort next year.
Major Levi Hofts will be the first graduate of the program. Hofts, a member of the initial cohort and a Marine pilot, enlisted in an accelerated version of the master’s program that will see him earn his degree in December ahead of the other 2018 officers, who will graduate in May.
Captain Kaitlin Kleiber, an Alexandria, Va.-native and a graduate of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, is the first woman selected for the fellows program. “It’s an honor to be chosen” for the program, she said, “but it’s an honor for all of us.”
The advanced degrees are important to the officers if they wish to move up in rank, said Major Jason Bowers, a member of the first cohort. “As your rank increases, there are additional requirements, and if you want to be competitive, you really need to have a master’s degree,” he said.
“We are really pleased with the success of the program thus far,” said Major Patrick Heiny in the Marine Corps Office of Legislative Affairs. The Schar School’s “education through the [Master’s in Public Policy] program has shown to prepare our officers with knowledge that has made them more adaptable and valuable to the congressional offices which they staff.”
The third cohort has been screened and selected, he added.