Sylvia Vadney and her family posing in front of old main

Mom Endorses Arizona Online's IIO Program

Sylvia Vadney is so impressed with Arizona Online’s Intelligence and Information Operations program that she has inspired her youngest daughter to enroll as well.

Sylvia knew that the next chapter of her career would involve fighting human trafficking. Having raised two daughters and discovering how even today in the United States, vulnerable young women can become prime targets of human trafficking “shook her to the core.” Sylvia knew she wanted to prevent human trafficking and used that passion as a springboard to chart her course. 

She started looking for an online degree that might be a good fit and Arizona Online’s Intelligence and Information Operations program (IIO) stood out because of the program’s Defense Intelligence Agency’s Intelligence Community - Center of Academic Excellence (IC-CAE) designation. The IC-CAE is designated by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI). Sylvia decided that any program recognized by the ODNI has to be a worthwhile program. “There are very few schools on the list that hold that designation.”

For over 15 years, Sylvia’s career experience was in sales, but she says not having an intelligence, tech or military background hasn’t impeded her studies. Her emphasis is on information operations, where she focuses on intelligence analytics. For Sylvia, the mission of this degree is to provide detailed intelligence analysis for the public and private sectors. She wants to analyze and provide information to decision-makers so that they can make better decisions. 

Sylvia Vadney standing in front of river and trees

Sylvia’s proactive attitude has made her stand out. Sylvia makes a point of reaching out via email to the guest speaker of any seminar she attends. She says that the speakers welcome her questions about their participation in the intelligence sector more often than not. Sylvia even had a zoom meeting scheduled that week to speak with an FBI agent about her experience, specifically working in the FBI. 

Initially, Sylvia saw herself working in the intelligence community for the FBI, CIA or Homeland Security. However, the networking opportunities and exposure she has gained in the program have expanded her horizons. Now, midway through earning her degree, Sylvia keeps an open mind while talking to individuals from agencies and some private sector companies. 

“I can’t say enough about the external opportunities this program provides,” says Sylvia. Sylvia took a weeklong summer seminar with the intelligence community offered by the ODNI. She learned the history of the intelligence community and the application process for public sector agencies. 

“One of the biggest assets of this program is the faculty,” says Sylvia. Through her interactions with faculty and staff, Sylvia has made meaningful connections within the intelligence community; she gets constructive feedback on her work and even letters of recommendation. Sylvia considers the faculty part of a small family of experts that she gets to learn from. “My success is their success, is how they make it feel,” she says.

Sylvia’s passion for the program has even inspired her youngest daughter to enroll in the program as well. “So we’re in it together. I think it says a lot if a mom entrusts a program with her child.”

When asked what an education with Arizona Online has afforded her, Sylvia says, “Being in an Arizona Online program has allowed me to continue being a good mom, a good wife and a good employee, all while earning my degree.”

Learn more about the Intelligence and Information Operations program