Hampton students attend FBI academy, learn about career opportunities

Monday, November 4, 2019 | 12:01 AM

Two Hampton high school students participated in the 2019 FBI Pittsburgh Teen Academy, building their interests for careers in law enforcement.

Lillian Ebeling-Koning and Gillian Mulcahy joined other high school seniors in the area to attend the FBI Teen Academy on Oct. 23 at its headquarters in downtown Pittsburgh. Though this academy has been held throughout the country, it was the inception of the program for the Pittsburgh division, according to FBI Community Outreach Specialist, Kelly Wesolosky.

The program provides a more hands-on, invasive approach into the diversity of career choices in the FBI.

“The academy opened up their eyes to all of the job opportunities and specialties we have to offer,” said Wesolosky.

The event is open to all area high schools including as far as West Virginia, said Wesolosky. A total of 46 seniors attended.

Selected participants were invited to learn more about the importance of making good choices when communicating on online platforms, federal law violations investigated by the FBI, requirement of FBI applicants, and roles the FBI has internationally and domestically, according to an invitation letter from Robert Jones, special agent with the FBI Pittsburgh Division.

Hands-on activities included how the FBI handles evidence.

Ebeling-Koning, 17, said she applied because she has an interest in forensics. She previously applied for a leadership camp for the FBI but did not get to attend. However, she was still interested in learning more.

“I was informed during my application process for the camp about how industrial design can lead to a job in the FBI recreating crime scenes digitally and it interested me,” she said.

She was pleased with the results.

“After the event I found a fond interest in the evidence team and being an agent as both are directly involved with the crime scene. However, also the analytic portion of the job would be cool as it is like solving a jigsaw puzzle,” said Ebeling-Koning, of Allison Park.

Mulcahy, 18, said she applied because she wants to study criminal justice in college and thought this was a great way to learn what she may want to do with her degree after she graduates.

“After going to this academy, it has confirmed that I want to go into crime scene investigations and working with the evidence collection teams in the FBI,” said Mulcahy, of Allison Park.

Wesolosky said students at the academy had a lot of interest in cyber security and cyber bullying. And also there was a high interest in keeping everyone safe in their peer group.

Participants got to hear from various levels of professional staff and with special agents in one-on-one group settings. The event had a heavy cyber-focus, a forensic focus and topics on physical safety. They also explored counter-terrorism and investigation techniques, said Wesolosky.

Students at the academy were also provided presentations on topics including terrorism, public corruption, polygraph exams, SWAT, and day-to-day operations of a typical FBI office, according to the FBI website on the academy.

Students learn from special agents, intelligence analysts, language specialists, and professional staff on investigative tactics including gathering evidence, interviewing witnesses, and assisting cases, per fbi.gov.

Current high school juniors should visit the FBI Pittsburgh website in February for an application to the Spring 2020 Academy. An application is required.

Ebelng-Koning said she learned a lot from the program.

“There is such a vast range of job opportunities and there are internships you can do in college. The people who work there have a deep appreciation of their country and exhibit true passion for the things they do to serve the community and their country,” she said.

Mulcahy agreed.

“I definitely learned that the people there are not intimidating and you can have a career in something other than being a swat team member,” she said.