This week I shared we’re gearing up for our annual introduction series featuring the incoming Fall 2017 class. To get us started, please welcome Karl Hendler from Richfield, Ohio. Karl was a philosophy major from the University of Southern California, and joined the US Marine Corps upon graduation. (Thank you for your service, Karl!) He’s joining SIPA to change gears and focus more on designing policy rather than executing it. 

Full Name: Karl Hendler
Age: 31
Degree Program: Master of Public Administration
Concentration: International Security Policy
Hometown: Richfield, OH

Undergraduate University: Univ Southern California
Undergraduate Major: Philosophy
Undergraduate Graduation Year: 2008

What’s your professional background?
Immediately upon graduating college, I was commissioned into the US Marine Corps as a Second Lieutenant. I spent my first year in training in Quantico, VA, first in The Basic School (infantry training for all newly commissioned Marine officers) and then at Basic Communications Officer Course. I spent the next eight years as a communications officer, a specialty in which I planned and supervised the installation and operation of voice, video, and data communications networks at various levels throughout the Marine Corps. In this time, I’ve lived in Okinawa, Japan, Camp Lejeune, NC, and another stint in Quantico. I’ve also deployed on the USS Essex, taking part in exercises and port visits throughout Asia (Korea, Hong Kong, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, and the Philippines). In 2013, I deployed to Helmand Province, Afghanistan, for a year as a future operations officer, taking part in the planning of the year’s operations. Lastly, in Quantico I am currently serving as a capabilities development officer, planning the implementation of future technologies throughout the Marine Corps. I will resign my commission at the end of June, with a final rank of Captain.

Did you apply to SIPA to change careers or to gain experience in a career path you already have experience in?
I see myself as changing careers into a related field. As a Marine I’ve served more of an instrument of foreign and public policy, and SIPA will give me the opportunity of transitioning into influencing the formulation of policy.

Karl Hendler and family standing under a tree in the park

What was your reaction when you found out you were accepted to SIPA?
My first reaction was a giant sigh of relief. SIPA was by far my first choice school, and I had no idea what to expect when I applied after being out of school for so long. Without any reference point as to how competitive I was as an applicant, I was extremely nervous during the entire application period.

Why did you say “yes” to SIPA?
SIPA was my first choice for two main reasons. First, academically, SIPA appears to strike the right balance for me in terms of focus. Programs like those offered at the Harvard Kennedy School seemed very broad in addressing public policy; whereas others like the Security Studies Program at Georgetown seemed too narrow in focusing on security exclusively. SIPA, I think, takes the best parts of those schools and molds them together into a very well-rounded program. Secondly, I love the location, quite frankly. My wife and I have always wanted to live in New York.

What do you most look forward to as a graduate student at SIPA?
I look forward most to getting exposed to the wide range of diverse people and perspectives. I’ve thus far spent my entire (albeit relatively short) adult life in the Marine Corps, living and working among other Marines almost exclusively. I think I see the world through a lens provided by the military, and I am keen to gain a more comprehensive view of the world around me.

Do you have any apprehensions about starting graduate school?
I graduated college in 2008, and with the exception of GRE prep and taking economics and statistics online to reinforce my transcript, I’ve been removed from academics for seemingly a lifetime. I’d like to think I’ll do well, but I won’t know for sure until we start in the fall.

What are your goals after SIPA?
Broadly, I want to continue serving my country, though this time around I’d like to have a say (however small) in forming national security policy, using my experience in the military to hopefully inform plans and ideas concerning military interventions. I’ll be looking at government agencies for those opportunities, but I also look forward to exploring private options as well.

If you could change one small thing about your community, country or the world, what would it be?
I’d like to tweak how leaders think about military interventions: often we see debates about intervening in a country with leaders speaking in terms of numbers of troops, bombs dropped, or missiles launched. Whenever a government considers any kind of military operation in another country, however, I’d like to consider those in the country being impacted and focus on potential long-term ramifications on how, as a society, they will view us and cooperate (or not) with us in the future.

Tell us something interesting about yourself:
I spent the first three days of my life without a name: My parents had planned to name me Peter Hendler III, but when I was born my mom thought I “didn’t look like a Peter.” My parents spent the next three days in vain attempting to decide upon another name, until my grandmother suggested the name of her brother, Karl.

Share your story by completing the New Student Self-Interview Form today!

[Photos courtesy of Karl Hendler | At Fredericksburg, VA, Oktoberfest, Sep 2016 | With Stacy and my son William at the DC Cherry Blossom Festival, Mar 2017]
*Note: This series is published in its original form with no editing.