The Charger Blog

Chargers Reflect on Recent Trip to FBI Academy in Virginia

More than a dozen students recently toured the FBI Academy in Quantico and visited Washington, D.C. They say it was an incredible opportunity to explore career possibilities in their chosen fields as well as the country’s history.

May 9, 2024

By Colin S. Graham ’23, ’24 M.S., Emily Young ’24, ’25 M.S., Maria Paula Montoya Mayorga ’24, ’25 M.S., Andrew Lucas ’27, Ariel Lee ’24 M.S., and Victoria Ortlund ’25 M.S.

The American Criminal Justice Association and Graduate Forensic Science Club at the entrance to the FBI Academy.
The American Criminal Justice Association and Graduate Forensic Science Club at the entrance to the FBI Academy.

The University’s American Criminal Justice Association chapter and its Graduate Forensic Science Club recently hosted a trip to the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. It was an exciting opportunity for undergraduate and graduate students of all fields to explore career opportunities and learn more about government agencies. For many students, it affirmed their career goals and enabled them to interact with professionals in the field of law enforcement.

Students also had the opportunity to explore Washington, D.C., visiting landmarks and monuments and learning more about the nation’s history.

Below, several Chargers reflect on their experiences.

Colin S. Graham ’23, ’24 M.S.

In September 2023, one of our American Criminal Justice Association (ACJA) chapter advisers, Prof. Maria Torre, informed the executive board that she had secured a tour of the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia, for this spring. I was particularly excited, as this trip has historically been taken with the Criminal Justice Residential Learning Community.

While I was in the RLC my first year, the trip could not occur that year due to COVID-19. In November 2023, the Psi Omega Chapter voted to not attend the 2024 National Conference in Southlake, Texas. Without a national conference to prepare for, I took the lead in coordinating this trip for ACJA. I worked closely with Professor Torre and Erin Buckley ’24 M.S., the vice president of the Graduate Forensic Science Club (GFSC).

The American Criminal Justice Association in the FBI Library’s Hoover Reading Room.
The American Criminal Justice Association in the FBI Library’s Hoover Reading Room.

While ACJA and GFSC had set aside a portion of their budgets for this trip, we quickly realized that we would need additional funding. Recognizing the importance of experiential education, the Henry C. Lee College Dean’s Office offered to assist, which I am grateful for, as I know this trip could not have occurred without it.

As for my career goals, I am currently pursuing a career in state or federal law enforcement. Speaking to current FBI agents and employees about their careers and the history of the FBI Academy, the FBI National Academy, and New Special Agent and Intelligence Analysts training, as well as seeing and learning about Hogan’s Alley, TEVOC, the FBI Library, Physical Fitness Training areas, and the Firearms Ranges reaffirmed my career choice.

In total, 16 students from the University attended the trip. All the feedback I have received thus far has been positive. ACJA and GFSC hope to make this an annual trip, and we would love to see many more students attend to gain some experiential knowledge in the field. With that said, the American Criminal Justice Association is always looking to expand our membership, and I would encourage any student who has an interest in criminal justice to join our organization.

Emily Young ’24, ’25 M.S.

One of the reasons I chose the University of New Haven was for the many opportunities it offered its students to get involved in the criminal justice field and to get connected with employees and employers who are currently in the field as well. As someone who wants to work on the FBI’s evidence response team in the future, I greatly appreciated this opportunity provided by ACJA and the University to visit the FBI’s academy in Quantico, VA.

One can research the academy all they want, however, being at the academy, seeing the facilities and individuals going through classes, and asking questions of a current FBI agent and hearing from his real-life experience was an amazing opportunity I was grateful to have. While at the academy, we were able to see what a day might look like for a student in the academy, the classrooms, gyms, firing ranges, and library, which were all impressive facilities.

Even when we were not at Quantico, we were able to explore Washington, D.C., and see the World War I and II monuments, as well as the monuments for the Korean War and Abraham Lincoln. All of us on the trip were able to learn so much about the FBI and about our history as a country in Washington, D.C. The information learned on this trip will be helpful in future studies and in my career field. The memories made are ones I am extremely grateful for and will keep close when I leave the University.

The American Criminal Justice Association in front of the U.S. Capitol Building
The American Criminal Justice Association in front of the U.S. Capitol Building
Maria Paula Montoya Mayorga ’24, ’25 M.S.

The Washington D.C., trip was truly one of the best experiences of my undergraduate career. I got to see a beautiful city that I had never been to, and visiting the FBI Academy in Quantico was truly the icing on the cake. I hope to be an FBI special agent one day, specifically working in the Violent Crime Unit and Critical Incident Response Group.

I have been dreaming of being in the FBI since I was a 10-year-old little girl, and to actually get a tour of the Academy as well as seeing the current agents-in-training in action was truly an unforgettable experience. Not to mention, spending time with my fellow club members, and friends, in such a wonderful city is truly indescribable.

I am forever grateful to the Lee College’s Dean’s Excellence Fund for partially funding this trip since I do not think this could have been done with it. I am also very grateful to our ACJA advisers, Professor Torre and Professor Maxwell, for putting this together.

This was such an enriching experience, and I would truly love to attend more off-campus trips like this since they give us the opportunity to learn from professionals while also giving us realistic advice. For those of us who want to be in the FBI, actually seeing Quantico and hearing from someone like our guide, who was in the process of becoming an agent, is not something you can simply learn from a book. I truly hope that every person gets to see their major in action like we did.

The American Criminal Justice Association and Graduate Forensic Science Club on the FBI Academy’s auditorium stage.
The American Criminal Justice Association and Graduate Forensic Science Club on the FBI Academy’s auditorium stage.
Andrew Lucas ’27

When I chose to attend the University of New Haven, I did so for reasons beyond just the specialized academic curriculum. I chose the University because of the experiences and opportunities given to students to help support their aspirations and set us up for success.

Events such as the career fairs, guest speakers, the mock mass casualty event, and trips such as this one to the FBI Academy are incredibly impactful and have already contributed to creating a network of contacts and building a rapport with those in the industry. As a rising sophomore, I have a large portion of my college career still ahead of me. During this time, I will need to make decisions regarding academic pathways, internships, and whether my goal of working in Federal Law Enforcement suits me.

I attended this trip to Quantico to get a taste of what FBI life and training would be like and to see with my own eyes if this was something I could genuinely view myself doing and dedicating my life to. If so, I would dedicate the next few years of my life to achieving this goal.

Now, reflecting upon the trip, which tremendously exceeded my expectations, touring Quantico further ignited my passion and drive to positively impact my community as a federal agent. This trip also reaffirmed that my career trajectory and choice of attending the University of New Haven were right for me.

If this trip had not been funded, I unfortunately would have had to forgo this opportunity, which would have been very disappointing as these three days were fun, but also highly influential and educational. I would like to attend future off-campus trips as I feel the best way to learn is to get out of the classroom and witness firsthand your occupation in a real-world setting.

Ariel Lee ’24 M.S.

I was extremely grateful to hear that the Lee College's Dean's Excellence Fund funded the trip. This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me as one of my dream career goals is to work at the FBI lab at Quantico.

The trip was extremely helpful in giving me more insight into my future career. My main career goal is to be a civilian crime scene investigator/technician. Through this trip, I was able to know that this was something I could possibly do with the FBI. I was able to get my questions answered about the application process, and I was happy to learn that I did not necessarily need to become an agent to work at the Quantico lab. In addition, the trip allowed me to see what Washington, D.C. and the surrounding area are like.

I often find that being able to live somewhere you love will increase the productivity of your job. Being able to experience the city has given me clarity about what type of place it is and what I might be able to expect from it. This was not only was an educational trip, but it also allowed us as students to strengthen our friendships. I give all my appreciation and thanks to the amazing people and the Lee College's Dean's Excellence Fund for being able to make this trip happen!

The American Criminal Justice Association and Graduate Forensic Science Club in downtown Washington, D.C.
The American Criminal Justice Association and Graduate Forensic Science Club in downtown Washington, D.C.
Victoria Ortlund ’25 M.S.

As a first-year graduate student at the University of New Haven, I was surprised and grateful for the no-cost opportunity to visit and tour the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s headquarters in Quantico, VA. It has been a dream of mine to become a crime scene investigator with a specialization in bloodstain pattern analysis, and I would love to one day work on the Evidence Response Team with the FBI.

When I found out the trip was being partially funded by the Henry C. Lee College’s Dean’s Excellence Fund, I was elated! Thank you so much, Dean Gaboury!

My experience during the tour of the FBI’s amazing facilities reignited my dreams of being a special agent that started back in middle school. Having the chance to see Hogan’s Alley, where special agents are trained to apprehend suspects in buildings recreated from actual case work, made me feel proud of the dedication our federal agencies have put forth to keep us safe.

To work for the FBI after graduating from the University of New Haven in May of 2025 would set me up for the most rewarding career of my life. During my time as a student at the University, I have had the chance to tour the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in New York City and the FBI training facility at Quantico.

Both of these trips have broadened my horizons to the possibilities of future career paths and instilled a sense of exploration. As for me and my classmates, we are grateful for the amazing opportunities the University of New Haven and the Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences have given to us.

Colin S. Graham ’23, ’24 M.S. is a candidate in the University’s graduate program in investigations. Emily Young ’24, ’25 M.S. and Maria Paula Montoya Mayorga ’24, ’25 M.S. are criminal justice majors. Andrew Lucas ’27 is a cybersecurity and networks major. Ariel Lee ’24 M.S. and Victoria Ortlund ’25 M.S. are candidates in the University’s graduate program in forensic technology.