A Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence led by the University of Maryland

A consortium of researchers dedicated to improving the understanding of the human causes and consequences of terrorism

START student aspires to serve her country


START student aspires to serve her country

Intern Spotlight: Briana Guerrero

November 19, 2013Keri Enriquez

Briana Guerrero has always been interested in international affairs and working for the government, but only recently has she developed a special interest in understanding and preventing terrorism.

After being accepted into START’s Global Terrorism Minor Program, Guerrero was looking for ways to be involved outside of the classroom to gain work and research experience. After discovering that START offers internships throughout the year, she immediately applied to the program.

Guerrero is now a part of the Global Terrorism Database ”perpetrators team,” which works to identify the individuals and/or organizations that carry out terrorist attacks around the world.

When investigating an attack Guerrero and her team research and code variables, including the number of people involved, whether a terrorist group claimed responsibility for the attack and whether anyone was captured or arrested.

“This helps us get a better understanding of which groups are more active than others, in what areas they are active and perpetrating these acts, and what methods they prefer to use,” she says.

While Guerrero admits that remaining up-to-date with the terrorist groups around the world is challenging, she says she has been able to apply much of her previous government and politics coursework to her START internship.

“I research and go through a lot of news articles to identify perpetrators or groups that evolve,” she says.

“Courses in international relations and terrorist motivation and behaviors have provided me background knowledge on many of the terrorist groups I research here at START.”

She also believes her internship experience at START has enabled her to improve in the classroom. At one of START’s enrichment program events, she utilized a tool called ‘StrengthFinder’ that identified her strongest qualities and how she works best. Guerrero says she applies the findings and is now more productive in both academic and professional settings.

Although Guerrero has only worked at START for one semester, she already includes the Consortium in her future. She plans on continuing in START’s internship program into the spring.

“START has provided enrichment events and brought in successful people in my field,” Guerrero says.

“They have provided me with great networking opportunities.”

Guerrero would like to be employed in the security or intelligence fields at a federal agency after graduation. She hopes to eventually act as director of a counterterrorism department within the CIA, FBI or Department of State.