Zach Nunn

The Young Alumni Achievement Award honors an alumnus 40 years or younger for outstanding achievement in a career or profession and reflects the pride of Drake University in these achievements.

The 2012 award winner is Zach Nunn, a 2002 graduate of the College of Arts and Sciences.

When looking to continue his education, Zach focused his college search to the east coast for a strong political science program, access to federal government, small class sizes and dynamic student body.

"The furthest thing from my mind was going to school in Iowa," the Altoona native admitted, and was surprised to find everything he was looking for just down the road in Des Moines.

It’s this proximity that Zach partly credits for his involvement at Drake.

"People come to college wanting to be independent and don’t realize the amazing things college offers," he said. "But because I already lived in Des Moines, I got to focus on the things that really mattered."

For Zach, that became a combination of serving as a Student Senator and the Student Activities Board president, pledging as a colonizing member of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, and committing countless hours to residence life and mock trial.

Zach also had the opportunity to work at the Iowa Statehouse, on different political campaigns, and in the U.K. Parliament, further developing his passion for international relations and politics.

After graduating magna cum laude with degrees in international relations and law, politics and society (LPS), Zach joined the United States Air Force as a captain. During his six years of service, Zach served three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, leading intelligence support help guide the missions of ground troops and air support.

The efforts of his team were rewarded with the General Jerome F. O'Malley Award, the Air Force's highest honor bestowed to a reconnaissance crew. Upon leaving the Air Force, Zach continued his service to his country working in counterintelligence in Washington, D.C.

Recently, Zach was selected by the White House to serve, he says, as "the guy who's looking for spies inside the U.S.," more formally called the National Security Council's Director for Cybersecurity Policy.

In this role, he advises the President and Director of National Security on how to safeguard the nation's critical infrastructure and maintain U.S. interests in cyberspace.

With a resume like that, we’re honored that Zach referred to Drake as the "scene-setter" for the rest of his career.