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FBI Collegiate Citizens Academy Gives Students Hands-on Experience

The FBI Collegiate Citizens Academy gave students a view of the agency's specialized units that tackle gangs, human trafficking, and cybersecurity.

ALBANY, N.Y. (May 3, 2016) -- It's safe to say that when most students go off to college, they don’t envision themselves sitting on the fender of an FBI SWAT truck.

But that's one of the pictures that emerged from the UAlbany FBI Collegiate Citizens Academy where 56 students learned about the law enforcement agency's goals and mission, and specialized units that tackle gangs, human trafficking, and cybersecurity.

The students, many of whom are enrolled in and applied through the University's acclaimed Educational Opportunities Program (EOP), participated in experiential learning programs in crisis negotiation, sexual exploitation of children, evidence response teams, and weapons of mass destructions.

Ashley Cummins, a junior from Fulton, N.Y., who's majoring in criminal justice and psychology, was one of some 23 students who applied to the program through the University's new College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity (CEHC). "I've always had an interest in working as an investigator for the FBI or a similar agency, and having the opportunity to go through the academy gave me better insight into which part of the FBI that I would want to work in as well as the various requirements for each. What I enjoyed the most was the interaction," she said.

Jeff Vargas, a graduate student in public administration, with a concentration in homeland security and financial management also participated. "The Collegiate Academy was a unique and rare opportunity to learn more about the diverse mission of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. While many may view the FBI as an elite traditional law enforcement agency, I learned that it is much more than that,” the New Rochelle, N.Y., native reported, “The FBI is first and foremost a national security agency driven by the highest levels of intelligence and technology. My favorite part of the course was the tour of the Albany Field Office, located about fifteen minutes from the UAlbany uptown campus."

But lectures did not solely define the three-week academy. Said Vargas, "Inside the Albany Field Office, we were able to view a MRAP rapid response vehicle, an armory vault, and an evidence room, where we observed a demonstration of how tools are used to detect DNA on carpeted surfaces."

"I liked the fact that all the special agents that spoke were enthusiastic about teaching us," said Tristian Banchs, a criminal justice student from Schenectady County Community College. The Ponce, Puerto Rico native said, "They prepared themselves really well to bring us essential information that we can now put into our field of study and our everyday lives going forward."

EOP Director Maritza Martinez, who has organized campus participation in the FBI Academy for the past five years, said, "It has been a pleasure to work with our local FBI. Five years later, nearly 200 students -- primarily from UAlbany's EOP, but now expanded to include students from our CEHC and digital forensics majors, plus EOP and Higher Education Opportunity Program students from local institutions such as Sage College and Schenectady County Community College, have participated and been educated on what the FBI does and the wide array of career opportunities that are available through this federal investigative arm of the United States Department of Justice."

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