Federal Security Specialist & Army Veteran Keeps “Eyes on the Prize” with Master’s in Law Enforcement Leadership

2 min read
Ruth Rivet, USD Graduate

Ruth Rivet’s life story is made up of high-risk, high-reward opportunities, but any resulting adrenaline rush isn’t her motivation.

“I learned pretty early on to keep my eyes on the prize,” says Rivet ’07 (BA), who recently completed the Online Master of Science in Law Enforcement and Public Safety Leadership (LEPSL). “Things may get tough, there are roadblocks, but I just think how amazing it will be when it’s accomplished. That’s been a big motivator for me. I stay happy because I believe everything’s going to be okay.”

Currently a federal security specialist for the Department of Defense in Bremerton, Washington, she performs security clearance maintenance, implements rules and regulations and offers operational oversight at Washington’s Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, home to some of the most important ships in the Navy’s arsenal.

Rivet calls it her “dream job.” To get there, her qualifications included an eight-year U.S. Army stint after graduating from USD. A human intelligence collector and Arabic linguist, she was deployed to lead a four-person intelligence team in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn.

“I had one of the most rewarding tours in Iraq. I was battlefield promoted to staff sergeant in a combat environment. As I look back, I think that was pretty neat,” Rivet says.

The language enhancement paid dividends when she traveled overseas. “It opened a whole new world of understanding, speaking in someone else’s language. It mirrors USD’s value of the dignity of the human person. Being an Arabic speaker really opened my eyes to understanding people.”

When an email arrived in 2018 touting the merit of enrolling in a young, but already nationally recognized LEPSL program run by her alma mater, University of San Diego, Rivet saw the 11-course, 31-unit program as an attractive opportunity.

“I wanted something with hands-on training in the field,” she says. “I wanted to understand more, to see other sides, to do better for my profession and be stronger. I feel I’m more well-rounded and educated to be out there in this honorable profession.”

She praises the faculty’s dedication and says that being among a student population representing law enforcement throughout the U.S. was important to her development.

“As a federal security specialist in a law enforcement course, I often interpreted information differently than my police officer colleagues,” Rivet says. “Though some categories overlap, many do not. This did not take away from my growth as a student or the educational milestones this program demands. It made the coursework richer, as I often had to give close analysis and think of things from different perspectives.”

Rivet’s positive assessment of her overall experience in the LEPSL program is a frequent refrain among students.

“I’m so glad I took this journey,” she says. “The skills I’ve acquired in logical thought, attention to detail and making informed choices will be priceless.”


— Ryan T. Blystone

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