The FBI Columbia field office is teaming up with six local HBCU’s to launch its first-ever mentoring program.
Interested students from Benedict College, Morris College, Voorhees College, Allen University, Claflin University, and South Carolina State University met at Benedict College to learn more about what the program will entail and meet their new mentors.
The program provides students with exposure to FBI careers and opportunities.
Mentors will provide professional guidance to their selected students by meeting with them at least once a month for the rest of the fall semester. Mentees are expected to initiate discussions with their mentor, seek feedback for areas of development, set goals, and ask for guidance regarding professional growth.
“I feel like it’s a great experience. Something new. Never done before. Being able to talk to someone is better than just googling stuff online or looking online to figure out information. Talking to someone with actual experience,” says Allen University student Preston Connor.
“He plays football. I used to play football. I used to be a police officer and a detective and he’s looking to go into the secret service. And so I think there’s a lot of things that we can learn from each other, maybe some tips that I can provide to him and some guidance so I’m really looking forward to working with him,” says FBI Public Affairs Specialist Kevin Wheeler.
The program was inspired by the FBI’s Beacon Project, which hopes to foster a long-lasting relationship with underrepresented communities.
President of Benedict College, Dr. Roslyn Clark Artis believes this opportunity will provide lasting careers for the students involved.
“All beacons in the communities that they serve. How fitting that they have chosen to name this mentorship initiative “Beacon.” lighting the way for generations of students to find opportunities with the bureau and across our federal government,” says President Artis.
Assistant Special Agent in charge of the Columbia field office, Philip Tejera, says there are numerous career paths, including special agent, available with the FBI.
“This is an opportunity to connect with people that you may not have the opportunity to connect with through your day to day life, but you control your own destination and we’re here to help. Love the opportunity to give back and provide some guidance. Learn from them and they can learn from us as well, ” says Special Agent Tejera.
“I found it very interesting getting exposure to new career opportunities, because I’m a psychology major and the FBI, to me, is criminal justice majors. But they still have forensic psychologists and that’s what I want to aim for,” says student Nataijah Williams.
“I learned a lot about the FBI today, and the benefits and what they do,” says student Marlayna Schofield.
If the students complete the FBI’s program successfully, they may be offered a paid summer internship in the summer of 2023.