Hoover Institution National Security Affairs Fellows Mentorship Program

The Hoover Institution’s National Security Affairs mentorship program pairs selected Stanford students with one of eight distinguished diplomats and military officers who come to Hoover each year as part of the Robert and Marion Oster National Security Affairs Fellowship (NSAF) Program. NSAFs go on to serve in the highest levels of government. 

In the mentorship program, students meet for lunch with their NSAF mentor, attend special events with senior U.S. policymakers, and invite NSAF mentors to student activities – a club, a sporting event, a dorm lunch, or anything that connects them with undergraduate life at Stanford. Some NSAFs have conducted hackathons with students. Others have guest lectured in classes, helped design alternative spring break trips to military installations to explore civil-military relations, or invited students to their homes for dinner. The goal is to build meaningful bridges and share perspectives – having Stanford students learn what it’s like for these Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine, Coast Guard, and State Department officers to operate on the front lines of American foreign policy and having the NSAFs, in turn, gain a deeper understanding of undergraduate life on campus.

No expertise in international affairs is necessary to apply. All majors are welcome. Selection is based on academic excellence, extracurricular leadership, and interest in international affairs. Priority is given to applicants who plan to be in residence for the entire academic year and those who have no prior or current exposure to the military or diplomatic corps. We are looking for students who have wide-ranging curiosity. NSAFs often find the mentorship program to be one the most meaningful parts of their Hoover year. Students often say it’s the most inspiring thing they do at Stanford, connecting them not only to these real-world leaders but to a new student community at Stanford.

In light of the University’s announcement about academic planning for the 2020-21 academic year, this year’s mentorship program will look a bit different. Our plan for 2020-21 is to create a hybrid experience through our 1-unit course, Public Policy 100. We are transitioning the program to a virtual format, but when possible, we will hold in-person events for those on campus while allowing others to participate virtually at the same time. For the program to work effectively online, we are moving to a 1-unit pass/fail seminar format with a regular meeting time that accommodates a range of time zones. That time is tentatively set for Fridays from 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. Pacific, though this may change pending university decisions about course scheduling. The seminar will run during fall/winter/spring quarters. Because the fellows leave in May/June for their next postings, we will not be able to offer the program during the summer quarter. Attending (either virtual or in-person) the weekly sessions during the quarters you are enrolled at Stanford will be mandatory.

We will use this block of time to bond and learn together as a cohort of students and fellows. Session format and content will vary to include group activities, lectures from the National Security Affairs Fellows on their experiences in the military and the State Department, small group meetings with your mentors, and guest sessions (with Q&A) featuring national security leaders. Past speakers have included Dr. Condoleezza Rice, Gen. H.R. McMaster, former CIA clandestine case officers, and active-duty senior military officers.

Admitted students will enroll in Public Policy 100 (for one unit of credit) each quarter in 2020-21. In addition to attending events, students are required to write a 1-2 page quarterly reflection paper about their experience.

The program is directed by Dr. Amy Zegart. To apply, send a cover letter and resume to twj [at] stanford.edu (subject: NSAF%20Mentorship%20Program) (Taylor McLamb) by September 1st, 2020.

Want to know more? Check out our video or this article in the Stanford Daily.