Growing up in a small town in the Shoalhaven region of New South Wales, Samantha headed for the hustle and bustle of Sydney when it was time to start her undergraduate degree. She studied for a Bachelor of Commerce, which became her ticket into the world of international tax.
Working across the Big 4 consulting firms as an accountant eventually landed her in London, where she is still currently based, crunching numbers for one of the UK’s largest consulting firms. She says, “Even though I’m living it up in London, I still stay true to my Aussie roots by watching Kath & Kim on repeat. It’s nice, it’s different, it’s unusual, and it keeps my Aussie accent in check.” (Editor’s note: If you’re unfamiliar with Kath and Kim, look it up!)
Her work sparked an interest in cyber security and how it is linked to national security policy. The new, digital world needs robust protection of information systems, which is not only crucial for individuals but also for the integrity of national infrastructure. Battles are now waged in the cyber realm, rather than with the use of military hardware.
With this understanding, Samantha decided that it was time to grow her knowledge base. Starting off initially with the Graduate Certificate of National Security Policy. It involves the same content as the Master’s degree but is shorter and is less of a commitment. However, as soon as she tested the waters, she said, “By the end of it, I knew without a doubt in my mind that I had to continue with the Master of National Security Policy degree.”
She was also bolstered in 2022 when she was selected for the Office of National Intelligence (ONI) Scholarship for Women. “This scholarship did more than just support me financially; it was a gateway to firsthand interaction with esteemed professionals from the National Intelligence Community. These interactions were not only inspiring but also pivotal in solidifying my choice to delve deeper into the world of national security,” she says.
Crawford enabled her to complete her entire degree almost entirely remotely, from Sydney, Canberra, London and even a little bit in Prague and Paris, which she says she never could have imagined during her undergraduate days.
“This approach added a layer of independence and adaptability to my study routine, which is perfect for me while working a full-on job in a different time zone,” she says, without detracting from her ability to engage and learn from fellow students, many of whom are professions within the national intelligence community.
“My journey from a rural Australian town to the global financial hub of London has been nothing short of a whirlwind adventure. It’s a fusion of my humble beginnings and the global perspective I’ve gained along the way, and this has motivated me to dive deeper and contribute to the complex world of national security policy.”
If you’re thinking of studying at Crawford, Samantha has a simple message: “Go for it!” She says she knows what it is like to feel uncertain and nervous about making such a big commitment, especially if it appears you’re veering off your expected path, but “I can tell you with absolute certainty that this course was one I the best things I’ve ever done in my life. I feel like a completely different person now. You will never regret enriching your life with education. It is important to remember that your dreams are valid and achievable regardless of your background. They are not tied to the education level, social status, or wealth of the family you were born into. What matters is your determination, your hard work, and your vision for your future. Don’t be afraid to reach out for advice and mentorship—the people you admire and look up to were once learners themselves, just as you are now.”
As for her future, Samantha says she is excited about the idea of blending her background in international tax with the insights she has gained from her degree saying she believes there’s a lot of potential in bringing these two worlds together to contribute to our nation’s security.
Congratulations on your graduation, Samantha! We can’t wait to see what you accomplish next.