Students get up-close look at federal law enforcement
Nearly 30 students received certificates of completion for the first year of the University of Missouri-Kansas City Student Academy with the FBI. They were recognized by Heith R. Janke, FBI Supervisory Special Agent; and James McKusick, Ph.D., UMKC Honors College Dean.
Students of all majors were eligible to attend the non-credit professional development academy at no charge during the 2016-17 academic year. The Academy consisted of eight seminars led by FBI personnel. Students were encouraged to participate in as many sessions as possible and could pick and choose which sessions to attend. Those who attended six or more sessions received the certificates of completion.
In the fall of 2016, UMKC became one of the first universities in the country to offer such a program, which is modeled after the FBI’s Citizens’ Academy. This student-led initiative has a steering committee of six students from across the university who decide on topics that appeal to a wide and interdisciplinary audience.
At the closing seminar on April 25, Janke thanked the participants. “For our first time, it was a great success,” he said. “You are the future leaders. By participating, I hope that some of you will want to work for the FBI.”
“We greatly appreciate the FBI’s willingness to partner with the university and extend their programing to UMKC students,” said Ken Novak, Ph.D., UMKC criminology and criminal justice professor. “It is a great example of the university’s outreach to the community.”
UMKC student Phung Tran will graduate this month with a degree in business, an emphasis in marketing and entrepreneurship, and a minor in economics. She served on the UMKC Student Academy Marketing Steering Committee this past year. Although her immediate plan is to work for the UMKC Applied Language Institute and pursue a graduate degree, helping with the UMKC Student Academy presented another possible career opportunity for the future.
“The Student Academy helped me polish my resume, extend networking opportunities and learn how the FBI really works,” Tran said.
She agreed with Janke that the first year of the Student Academy exceeded expectations.
“Initially, we (the student committee) only expected around 30 attendants, but during the first seminar, approximately 90 people showed up. After that, the attendance rate varied from 50 to 65 people.”
“I feel that the Student Academy is a quality program that offers immense value for UMKC students,” said Benjamin Lotito, also a member of the UMKC Student Academy Marketing Steering Committee. He graduates this month with a master of science in accounting degree and has a job with the Federal Reserve Bank in Kansas City. Lotito got involved with the Student Academy because he hopes to join the FBI as a special agent in the future.
“Rather than the monolithic institution of the ‘FBI,’ this program is a small window into agency and a closer look at some of what FBI personnel actually do,” Lotito said. “It also serves as a forum for students to pose questions to FBI personnel that the students might otherwise not be able to easily get answers to.”
The model for the fall semester will be similar – one seminar a month at 5:30 p.m. on the first Tuesday of each month. The curriculum will include a few topics presented last year, plus a few new ones. The Student Academy was supported and sponsored by the College of Arts & Sciences, Honor’s College, Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology and the Chancellor’s Office.
Tentative topics and dates:
- Legal Authority and Deadly Force: Sept. 12
- Civil Rights and Hate Crimes: Oct. 10
- Evidence Response Team: Oct. 24
- Behavioral Analysis: Nov. 14
- International Terrorism: Jan. 23, 2018
- Hostage Negotiation: Jan. 20
- Violent Crime: March 13
- Active Shooter: April 24