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Graduate, Student Win National 9/11 Essay Contest

September 9, 2011 – An alumna of and a student in Georgetown’s graduate security studies program (SSP) have won first and second place in a national essay contest commemorating the 9/11 attacks.

Sara Moller (G’06), won first place and a scholarship of $20,000 in the National Richard A. Clarke Graduate Student Monograph Contest sponsored by the California-based Center for First Amendment Studies.

Second place and a scholarship of $10,000 went to Dimitar Georgiev (G’13).

Defining Moment

Sara Moller

Sara Moller (G'06)

“It’ a great honor and also very personal for me,” Moller says. “For my generation and many others 9/11 was a defining moment. ... It forced me to re-examine what I thought I knew and believed about the world.

Her monograph titled, “Lessons Learned and Unlearned: The Tenth Anniversary of September 11, 2001” made several policy recommendations, including an overhaul of the Department of Homeland Security.

Georgiev’s monograph, “Failure of American Strategic Thought and 9/11,” argues that resolving the Pakistani-Indian conflict should be one of the country’s highest priorities because both nations are nuclear powers.

Greatest Achievement

Dimitar Georgiev

Dimitar Georgiev (G'13)

“The contest I participated in… provided me with the opportunity to … re-examine what happened, why and what came after,” Georgiev says. “Winning second place [in the contest] is the greatest achievement so far in my academic career.”

The contest was made possible by a grant from Steven C. Markoff, who conceived and compiled the online database,

The winners will join Richard A. Clarke, who has worked in numerous government security positions, including a stint as chief counter-terrorism adviser for the National Security Council, at a 9/11 commemoration hosted by Rep. Rob Andrews (D-N.J.) Sept. 14 on Capitol Hill.

Analytical Skills

Markoff and the center’s director, Craig R. Smith, also will attend the commemoration.

The winning monographs will be posted on the web site of the Center at

“Sara and Dimi’s selection for first and second place in this prestigious contest is testament to the superb analytical and communications skills of security studies program students,” says Bruce Hoffman, a School of Foreign Service (SFS) professor, director of the SSP program and the Center for Peace and Security Studies at Georgetown. “We are proud of their achievement and honored to have the opportunity to help prepare such outstanding students for their future careers in the security field.”

Intellectual Rigor

Moller talked about SFS professor Daniel Byman as the faculty member who most influenced her.

“He guided me through my time at [the security studies program] and continues to serve as a mentor all these years later,” she says. “He’s always there to lend advice or an encouraging word. I try to model myself after him I the way I interact with my students at Columbia.

Byman says Moller was “one of the top students I have ever taught. This award is an impressive achievement and one that demonstrates her creativity and intellectual rigor.”

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