UTPB hosts FBI Student Academy graduation

University of Texas Permian Basin students that graduated from the FBI Student Academy Tuesday pose for photo at the Shepperd Leadership Institute Building.

About 20 University of Texas Permian Basin students graduated from the FBI Student Academy Tuesday.

The ceremony was held at the Shepperd Leadership Institute Building.

Maribea Merritt, director of Career Education at UTPB, said she has been through the FBI Citizens Academy in Midland. She found out there was one for students so she started asking how they could offer one for college students to let them know about the different career opportunities at the Bureau.

The course lasted four weeks, Merritt said. They were going to offer it last year, but COVID had hit so it was postponed.

Merritt said the students had to apply and background checks were conducted on them. She added that no one who applied was rejected.

“… It’s the way for FBI to be able to let them know all the opportunities, not just what they see on TV with the agent but all the opportunities that are available for them,” Merritt said.

Community Outreach Specialist Grace Lino-Fernandez was on hand to present certificates to the students.

“Most of them think that it’s just agents. They forget all the back support that is required and needed by the FBI. Just It doesn’t matter what kind of degree you have. You just have to have a degree, and then I believe it’s three years’ experience in your career, or three years working and before you can start making an application. So, it’s a neat program,” Merritt said.

Doreen Godia, a UTPB senior from Mombasa, Kenya, expects to earn a computer science degree this summer. She has always aspired to join the FBI.

“I have always wanted to join the FBI ever since I was a kid back at home. Me and my mom would binge watch FBI shows and I always found it so intriguing in how they’re able to solve the crimes in a such short time. So that was my main drive to join the FBI Academy,” Godia said.

Noting that she is a computer science major, Godia said she was able to talk to one of the people who work in the cybersecurity department at FBI.

“It was really good to hear how they’re able to do different things before they joined. …,” Godia said.

After graduation, she hopes to start work at a bank, hopefully gain citizenship through naturalization and be able to join the FBI.

Godia said she was surprised to find that UTPB offered an FBI Academy because it is a small school.

If she gets into the FBI, Godia would like to be in the cybercrime area.

The course covered a variety of subjects from national security to leadership skills.

Karen Bedoya, a graduate student in psychology at UTPB, said she got an email about the course.

When she saw it she thought it was a really good opportunity.

She pictured herself going into child psychology and practicing in a private institution or something like that.

But this was a great opportunity to learn something new and see if they have opportunities for people in psychology as well,” she said.