Honors College Student Honored as Top CISS Graduate

Lexi Thoman caps impressive UM career with Napier Prize, job at the U.S. State Department

OXFORD, Miss. – Alexandria Marie “Lexi” Thoman, a University of Mississippi student from St. Louis, has been awarded the second John H. Napier III Intelligence Prize awarded by the UM Center for Intelligence and Security Studies.

The Napier Prize is awarded annually to a graduating senior who has successfully completed the intelligence and security studies minor and who best exemplifies the qualities of outstanding scholarship, excellent character and a strong commitment to service.
Thoman, an international studies and Spanish major with minors in Portuguese and intelligence and security studies, received the award based on her overall performance as a student, her character and her outstanding motivation to succeed in and out of the classroom, said Carl Jensen, CISS director.

“The award is named after our sponsor, Brig. Gen. John Napier, a Picayune native who devoted much of his professional life to military intelligence,” Jensen said. “Gen. Napier started his military career as an enlisted Marine in World War II and served his country through the Vietnam War, eventually rising to the rank of general in the Army. While all of our students are very talented, we felt that Lexi best exemplifies the qualities of scholarship, courage and service that Gen. Napier asked us to consider.”

Napier is a 1947 Ole Miss graduate and recipient of a prestigious Taylor Medal. He is widely considered one of the pioneers of military intelligence and counterinsurgency operations. During his distinguished career, he was awarded the Legion of Merit, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, the British Order of Saint John and the Alabama Distinguished Service Medal.

During her academic career, Thoman was also selected as a Croft Scholar at the Croft Institute for International Studies and graduated as a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College. She served as an Honors intern with the FBI in Washington, D.C., and in Oxford before accepting the national Boren Award scholarship to study Portuguese in Rio de Janeiro in 2012.

After her return, Thoman interned with the Defense Intelligence Agency in Washington over the winter break of her senior year. She has been inducted into Phi Beta Kappa and successfully defended her senior honors thesis this spring. After graduation, Thoman will move to Washington to accept a position with the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Counterterrorism.

“In today’s economy, students really need to have a marketable skills when they graduate and enter the job market,” Thoman said after learning that she had won the Napier Prize. “The Center for Intelligence and Security Studies gave me the analytical writing and briefing skill set, in addition to my language skills and area expertise, that helped me land two internships in the federal government and my job at the State Department. I am proud to represent the center and Ole Miss, and honored to receive this award.”

The Napier award brings with it a $250 cash prize, a signed certificate and the honoree’s name included on a plaque that is maintained at CISS.

Besides the Napier Prize, medallions for completion of the intelligence and security studies minor were presented to graduating seniors Emily Bennett of Mesa, Ariz., Katharine Butts of Madison, Connor Hagan of St. Louis, Joshua Holdenried of Knoxville, Tenn., Alex Kynerd of Brandon, Sean McClure of Lexington, Ky., Mabon Owens of Horn Lake and Amanda Powers of Nashville, Tenn.

The highly selective intelligence and security studies minor consists of a rigorous six-course program of instruction. The CISS, which has close ties to various intelligence community agencies, has been recognized for its success in educating students for entry-level positions in intelligence-related fields.

For more information about the Center for Intelligence and Security Studies and the intelligence and security studies minor, visit http://www.olemiss.edu/ciss/.