Students travel overseas to give analytical support presentation to NATO

Instead of returning home after finals last semester, nine students led by Helms School of Government professor Scott Roenicke traveled thousands of miles north to Lithuania in the Baltic region of Europe. The group was overseas Dec. 12-16 to present a topic critical to NATO defense in the country’s capital city of Vilnius.  

The Liberty University Analytical Support Initiative is a team of Liberty’s “most gifted and talented students” according to its founder, Roenicke.  

LASI was created in December of 2021 and has since given students firsthand experience in national security and law enforcement opportunities to showcase their hard work in government settings such as the Pentagon and FBI headquarters.  

During their time in Lithuania, students presented their analytical findings on a specific topic of national security given to them by NATO officials in the Energy Security Centre of Excellence. They came up with a real solution and presented it to NATO using each of their areas of expertise and were received with respect and high praise for their work. All nine students received letters of commendation directly from NATO not only for their excellent answer to the scenario they were given, but also for their outstanding teamwork. 

“There is a combination of brilliance and Christlikeness (that) when put together is extremely compelling,” Roenicke said when speaking about his students. 

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LASI continues to be an exclusive group for the best minds at Liberty, prioritizing quality over quantity. Students who have participated have gone on to build careers in intelligence, the U.S. Department of State and the Pentagon, as well as the FBI and other law enforcement agencies, making seamless transitions from Liberty into the real world. 

“We’re trying to prepare students to easily integrate into productive government jobs,” Roenicke said when asked about LASI’s mission as an organization.  

Regardless of what they are studying, all LASI students share the same intense passion for serving their country. These students’ integration of innovation and technology equips them to make lasting impacts in the fields of national security and strategic intelligence. Elise Hof, a member of LASI and senior studying national security, voiced how much she enjoyed being able to take the time to appreciate Lithuanian culture, interact with locals and see how beautiful the city was in the snow. However, her experience with presenting in front of NATO officials was far more fulfilling. 

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“It’s honestly one of the most rewarding experiences we can have as students,” Hof said.  

Hof and her team prepared for their presentation all of fall semester, sacrificing sleep and free time. After all the hard work and dedication that went into preparing this analysis for NATO, the receptiveness they were shown made everything worthwhile. 

“They are interested in the potential application of our analytical tool to NATO operations,” Hof said. 

Even though her team performed above and beyond, this is not what stuck with Hof the most. Hof expressed that her biggest takeaway was how much she learned about the value of teamwork while working with her peers from multiple different schools and majors, saying that this would not have been possible without them.  

Upon graduation, Hof hopes to work in national defense but will be working with LASI one final time before she takes her leave. 

“I will be participating on another interdisciplinary team. For me, it’s the highlight of my academic career here at Liberty,” Hof said. “I’m committed to serving my country in whatever opportunity that I have.”   

Barber is a feature reporter for the Liberty Champion

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