UMKC students are learning about the FBI through a unique program called the UMKC Student Academy.
Students of all majors can attend the non-credit professional development academy at no charge. It consists of eight seminars led by FBI personnel. Students are encouraged to participate in as many sessions as possible and may pick and choose which sessions to attend. Those who attend six or more sessions will receive a certificate of participation from the FBI.
“The UMKC-FBI partnership is a very unique opportunity for students to learn more about the Bureau, its priorities and its role in our society,” said Ken Novak, Ph.D., UMKC criminology and criminal justice professor.
Chancellor Leo E. Morton was approached about the idea of bringing a student academy to UMKC more than a year ago. In the fall of 2016, UMKC became one of the first universities in the country to offer such a program, which is modeled after the FBI’s Citizens’ Academy. This student-led initiative has a steering committee of six students from across the university who decide on topics that appeal to a wide and interdisciplinary audience.
“It is an endeavor that is led by UMKC students, for UMKC students,” Novak said. “The Student Academy is a great example of UMKC’s ongoing partnership with the Federal Bureau of Investigation to advance urban engagement among students.”
“We look at this partnership with UMKC and the participation by the student body as an excellent avenue for outreach and a mechanism for introducing the FBI, and our roles and responsibilities to tomorrow’s leaders,” said Eric Jackson, FBI Special Agent in Charge. “We hope to create an interest in the students in potentially pursuing a career with the FBI or law enforcement among their future career opportunities.”
Benjamin Lotito, Master of Science in accounting student, will graduate in the spring of 2017. He attends the seminars and has been a member of the planning committee since its inception.
“I’m involved with the Student Academy because I hope to one day join the FBI as a special agent,” Lotito said. “This program is an opportunity to interact with active FBI personnel and learn more about the job that I hope to someday hold myself.”
Lotito said the Student Academy is an exceptional opportunity for UMKC students. “The Student Academy represents a valuable enrichment opportunity for UMKC students whether or not they intend to pursue a career in law enforcement. The individuals presenting the material are not academics, but rather the same men and women who are performing the work of the FBI on a daily basis,” Lotito said.
Student feedback to the first semester of classes has been positive. In addition to being on the planning committee, Lotito also tracks and compiles the reports on student attendance.
“The response from students that I’ve spoken to and from feedback cards submitted after each seminar has been overwhelmingly positive,” Lotito said. “Students have found the seminar topics to be very interesting, the speakers engaging and have even found some of the content presented to be applicable in their daily lives.”
“It also serves as a forum for students to pose questions to FBI personnel that the students might otherwise not be able to easily get answered. Particularly with the development of the generally negative dynamic between law enforcement and communities in the past year, the Student Academy has the potential to serve as a foundation to build greater understanding and dispel harmful misconceptions,” Lotito said.
The second semester of classes will start Jan. 31 with the program “Cyber Crimes and Crimes Against Children” from 5:30 – 6:45 p.m., in Room 401A, UMKC Student Union, 5100 Cherry St., Kansas City, Mo.
The other seminars for the spring 2017 semester include: White Collar/Corporate Crime and Public Corruption on Feb. 21, Behavioral Analysis on March 14 and Evidence Response Team on April 25. Sponsors include the UMKC Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology, College of Arts and Sciences, the Honors College and the Chancellor’s Office. For updates and announcements about the Student Academy, follow them on Twitter @UMKCStudentAcad or on Facebook.
The Student Academy is currently in the planning stages for the 2017-2018 academic year. Students interested in getting involved with planning and executing the curriculum for next year should contact Ken Novak, 816-235-1599 or firstname.lastname@example.org.[UMatters]