Fighting terrorism from the nation's capitol

 

Lacey Chong ’03

Senior Consultant, Booz Allen Hamilton
Washington, D.C.

I switched majors quite a few times—I started out with a declared major in international political economy, switched briefly to classics and then comparative sociology, mulled over another change to foreign languages and international affairs, but finally settled happily on Asian studies and Mandarin Chinese.

My favorite and most influential professor was Lotus (Lo Sun) Perry. She really took me under her wing and helped my transition from life in Honolulu to life on campus and on the mainland. I asked her a bazillion questions, and she was a pro in helping me figure things out. Under her guidance I went abroad three different times—for an intensive, summer Chinese language program at Tunghai University in Taiwan, an IES Beijing program in China, and a Trimble Scholarship to work on my senior thesis. I absolutely think that I succeeded at Puget Sound and in my postcollege career because of Professor Perry’s gentle and instinctive guidance. 

If you had asked me at the start of senior year what my five-year plan was, depending on the day, the answer maybe would have been: “CEO of Microsoft in Asia by age 30. Married to my boyfriend. And driving a Lexus RX300.”

None of that happened.   

After graduation I returned to Hawai`i, and worked at Pearl Harbor for two years before moving to Washington, D.C., in 2005. I accepted a position with a small company called CENTRA Technology and worked on two East Asia projects—at the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

In 2007 I got the opportunity to interview for a position at the White House, and of course I jumped at it. I ended up working at the National Security Council in the Counterterrorism Policy Directorate. I don't think I will ever have a job with such cool perks (or more stress). I gave White House East Wing and West Wing tours, got tickets to the Presidential Box at the Kennedy Center, attended state arrival ceremonies, and bumped into the V.P. and president regularly.   

I recently graduated from George Washington University with a master’s degree in international affairs/international security, and joined Booz Allen Hamilton as a senior consultant in 2011. While I no longer have the insider perks I did at the White House, I am enjoying a more normal schedule! I am currently working on a project with the U.S. Department of State, helping to support a multinational forum on counterterrorism issues.  

In my free time, I try to travel internationally as much as possible (often with UPS friends) and am very committed to my yoga practice. I am a wannabe foodie, so I love to try and critique new restaurants around D.C. with friends. I have been serving in some capacity on the Alumni Council since 2007. I was the D.C. city coordinator, and lately have been working as the East Coast coordinator, managing the relationship between the Alumni Council and the clubs in N.Y., D.C., Chicago, Minneapolis, and Denver.  

Staying connected with the university is such a key part of my identity—I loved my time at UPS, and I hope that my work will inspire other alums to get involved and reconnect.

Photo courtesy of Lacey Chong ’03