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Kyleanne Hunter

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University of Denver

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As a former Marine who spent time working in Washington, DC, Kyleanne Hunter’s (PhD '19) resume was already packed with a unique mix of experience in policy, international affairs, and advocacy work. So when she decided to pursue graduate studies outside the insular DC environment, the Korbel School’s programs in international security felt like a natural fit for her experience and aspirations.

“I was looking for a school that blended academic rigor and policy/practical engagement,” she says. “I had been working in DC as the Marine Corps' Legislative Liaison Officer and new that I wanted to go to graduate school outside of DC. Given my military background, international security was a natural fit.”

Starting with a masters degree in International Studies, Hunter proceeded to earn her PhD in Korbel’s International Relations and Affairs program, lending research experience and more practical study to her already impressive skill set. Hunter’s time at DU was characterized by a high level of involvement—she worked as a research fellow at the Sié Chéou-Kang Center for International Security & Diplomacy, and credits her participation in the center’s research symposiums for introducing her to new areas of interest and career options, which ultimately shaped her work in preventing gun violence in the United States.

With her PhD in hand, Hunter is now back in DC, working as an adjunct professor at the University of Georgetown. However, where you’ll find her largest footprint on global affairs is in her research and advocacy work, where she applies her unique perspective as a former Marine to explore topics of civilian gun deaths and suicide among combat veterans, among other potentially life-saving concepts. A regular contributor to the national discussion of the role of firearms in American society, Hunter has written essays for national outlets like NBC and CBC News, and in 2018 presented a talk at TEDx called “An American Problem: Weapons of War in Places of Peace.” She’s also Vice President of Programs at the Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence, a national nonprofit that provides resources and programming to empower local communities to fight for improved gun safety laws, backed by data and research.

Looking back on her experience at Korbel, Hunter acknowledges the critical role faculty like Cullen Hendrix, Ilene Grabel, and Debbie Avant played in her intellectual development, and credits them with helping her find her path and her passion for advocacy through an international security framework. She encourages new Korbel students to pursue practical policy experience in the unique environment Korbel provides, where she says students can focus on coursework while building connections with policy creators and practitioners.