You’re in the FBI?!?

Madison Burke, Staff Writer

My Wednesdays are different than most. It starts off the same: 6:00am- wake up, get ready, go to school, learn. But as soon as the last bell rings my day gets that much more exciting. An hour train ride, a subway ride, a pit-stop at Starbucks and a brisk walk to top it off. I’m standing in front of the FBI headquarters in Manhattan, ready to start my night as an FBI Explorer.

The FBI Explorer program gives high school and college students a chance to see what working in the FBI field is like; for me, it is a huge honor to be part of the program.  Each student has an opportunity to be mentored and trained by FBI special agents while learning about the multitude of career options the FBI has to offer. We are similar to the NYPD Explorer posts, but what sets us apart is that we are the only active FBI Explorer post in the country.

Most of our weekly meetings consist of training for competition. We train in different simulated scenarios, such as bomb threats, search arrest and seizure, armed robbery,  and domestic violence. We work with our team and figure out how this situation would be solved in real life while acting it out. Our skills are tested at competitions held at a local, as well as a national level. Recently, some of the explorers traveled to upstate New York for a sleepaway competition, while others traveled to the national competition in Indiana. While you might think these competitions are all work, there is some fun included as well. When we went camping for our spring competition upstate, we were able to participate in many activities with our post.  This included archery, training with the NYPD K9 unit, making smores around the campfire, and having a dance party in our cabin in the early hours of the morning. These competitions are much more than a great learning experience. You are able to bond with your post and make unforgettable memories. I participated in a spring competition in May and even though it was my first competition, my team and I did well enough to all earn medals.

Another important part of our program is community service. In my opinion, the community service aspect is one of the best parts of the program. We travel all over Manhattan and upstate New York to participate in these events. Two of my  personal favorite events were volunteering at the Spartan Race and the Gran Fondo Bike Race in Bear Mountain.

With all that being said, as much fun as being in the Explorers Program is, it requires hard work and a huge commitment. I am one of only two people in the post that is from Long Island. So I go straight from school to the train station every Wednesday at 2:30 and I don’t get home until about 10 pm, sometimes later if there is a lot of work to be done. A certain amount of community services must be done throughout the year and they are all day events; some ranging up to 12 hours. As competitions come closer, studying at home is also essential if you plan on doing well. I have given up a lot for this program. A majority of my Wednesday nights are being spent staying up until three or four in the morning doing homework. I have to skip sports practice Wednesday, every week, or I wouldn’t make the train on time. Many of my Saturday or Sundays are being spent doing community service. In spite of all that, this program is genuinely one of the best things that has ever come into my life. It has changed me for the better and I honestly don’t know where I would be without it.

Along with all the other benefits, this is a great opportunity for High School students to grow and learn as individuals. Taking the train by yourself every week, figuring out the inner workings of New York’s subway system as well as conquering “The Big Apple” alone, you feel a great sense of independence and accomplishment. Once you find something you truly love doing, you won’t mind putting in the work for it.

* photo via Google Images under the Creative Commons license