For Madison McLean, the chance to work with the FBI’s Violent Crimes Against Children Unit has been a long-held dream, and for the last three weeks, she got a chance to learn about the agency she wishes to join.
McLean, 20, was one of 26 cadets at the New Mexico Military Institute to take part in the NMMI Cadet Academy. For two hours one night a week, for three weeks, the academy provided cadets with the chance to learn about the nation’s top law enforcement agency, with presentations on subjects such as counterterrorism, violent crime, cybercrime and counterintelligence.
Thursday night, cadets heard from several professionals within the FBI about the 111-year-old organization’s history, professional opportunities within the agency and received a certificate for completing a program.
The Cadets Academy provided McLean, who is a staff sergeant and a college sophomore at NMMI, with information that she said will remain with her forever.
“I didn’t know I would learn this much in three weeks,” she said.
The Cadets Academy, which ran from Sept. 26 to Oct. 10, was a first for NMMI, concluding with participants receiving a certificate in a ceremony Thursday. The academy is similar to the Citizens Academy, which the FBI’s Albuquerque office has hosted for the last 16 years. A Citizens Academy has also been held annually in Las Cruces for the last four years.
Frank Fisher, public information officer with the FBI’s Albuquerque branch, said the Citizen’s Academy is meant to educate the public about the FBI and its different programs, while allowing the agency to reach out to people within communities.
“They get to know us better and we get to know the community better,” he said. Fisher added the Cadet Academy is also a way to recruit future talent to work within the agency.
Lt. Col. Edward Lynton, department chair and associate professor of Criminal Justice and Security Studies, said the Cadet Academy came about after he reached out to the FBI’s resident agency in Roswell, which in turn put him in touch with the FBI’s Albuquerque branch.
Initially, all NMMI cadets in grades 11 and 12 and the college were allowed to sign up for the academy. Applicants were then vetted by the FBI and NMMI personnel. NMMI plans to hold the Cadets Academy again next year, so applicants not selected will get a chance to apply next year.
James Langenberg, special agent in charge and a 23-year veteran of the agency, was one of the agents that spoke before graduates were issued their certificates Thursday night.
In his remarks, Langenberg recalled that someone once told him that being in the FBI was not a job but a career.
“It’s a career that you are going to want to get up and come to work every single day,” he said.
Langenberg explained that cadets at NMMI are in a learning environment that mirrors that of the FBI.
“We have rank in our organization, chain of command and a great regiment. And that is NMMI,” he said. As an organization, he said that the FBI is constantly looking for people with leadership qualities and who want to be a part of something larger than themselves.
“FBI: those three letters are universal. Everyone knows who we are. And I cannot be prouder to be a part of that brand,” Langenberg said.
Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at email@example.com.