From Senior Projects to Real-World Careers: Chadd Montgomery '02

When the terrorist events unfolded on September 11, 2001, Chadd Montgomery ’02 had just begun his senior year at Community School. The attacks fueled the senior's desire to impact the world.  

“Like many Americans, 9/11 deeply impacted me,” says Chadd, who today is Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse’s Military Legislative Assistant and since May 2015, has served in the Marine Corps Reserve as a Field Artillery Officer. “I had applied to the United States Naval Academy and wanted to do something related to terrorism for my Senior Project. My brother worked for a member of the House Finance Committee, which was working on ways to track and stop funding sources for terrorist groups. My intent was to learn about what Congress was doing to stop terrorist groups from getting access to funding.”

Just three months before Chadd arrived in Washington, D.C., the Enron scandal erupted and the House Finance Committee switched its focus. "I did not do anything during my Project that I wrote about in my paper,” he explains. “I learned a lot about how Congress works and does not work. So, while I never did the things I intended to do, I learned a lot about a topic, which is really the intent of the Senior Project. My time in D.C. really fueled my passion to serve the country.”

After graduating from Sun Valley Community School in 2002, Chadd attended the University of Puget Sound. After earning his degree in history, he worked for two years installing air conditioning and waiting tables in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, and as the Director of Accountability for Sigma Chi Fraternity Headquarters in Evanston, Illinois, and then headed to Syracuse University, earning his J.D. at Syracuse’s College of Law as well as an M.A. in Modern American history, a degree Chadd says he earned to keep a promise to revered Cutthroat educator Bob Doyle.

“Bob Doyle was the finest educator I’ve ever encountered,” says Chadd. “He changed the trajectory of my life by convincing me to embrace my love of history. I attended graduate school while going to law school, because I promised Bob I would get a graduate degree in history if I had the opportunity. Bob always carried a yardstick in class, which he used as a baseball bat or golf club depending on the season. I have a yardstick over the door to my library in my home as a reminder that I am one of Bob’s scholars.”

After passing the New York Bar Examination, Chadd practiced education law for two years before joining the Marine Corps in January 2014. Commissioned in Quantico, Virginia, in March 2014, he came off active duty in 2015, moved to Washington, D.C., and practiced law for nine months. That’s when the passion to help his country took another turn.

“I took the opportunity to pursue my passion by starting a job as Congressman Michael Turner’s Deputy Military Legislative Assistant,” Chadd says. “I spent 18 months in that position and then joined the staff of Senator Ben Sasse as his Military Legislative Assistant in November 2017. I returned to active duty in July 2018 to attend Expeditionary Warfare School for ten months in Quantico, Virginia. Upon completion, I will rejoin Senator Sasse's staff.”

Today, Chadd resides in Alexandria, Virginia, with his wife, Amanda. Looking back on his time at Community School and the resulting impact his 2002 Senior Project had on his life, Chadd reflects, “Fifteen years later, I’m serving my country in a civilian and military capacity. In its own way, my Senior Project set the stage for my professional career.”