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2007-2008 Psi Chi/FBI Grant Winner's Experience
by Amelia Cevelle Barna, University of Louisville (KY) -
Categories: Career Preparation | Personal/Academic Growth
Cevelle Barna graduated summa cum laude from the University of Louisville with a BA in psychology and a BSin justice administration (criminal justice). She served actively in her school’s chapter of Psi Chi as an officer and eventually served as president for 2 years. Cevelle also worked in the Infant Cognition Lab at the University of Louisville and wrote an honor thesis under Dr. Cara Cashon. In Fall 2009, she will be attending Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky to pursue her PsyD in clincal forensic psychology. Following her internship at the NCAVC, Cevelle interned with the Louisville FBI Field Office at the Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory. After graduate school, she hopes to have a career with the FBI as either a psychologist for undercover FBI agents or a crime analyst.
If I were going to succinctly summarize my internship with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime (NCAVC) it would be that it defied my greatest expectations. My 14-week internship provided me experiences that I never would have dreamed of having. Admittedly, the process to be able to participate in such an amazing experience was long and perhaps somewhat arduous. In addition to completing a typical interview like any job interview, I had to complete security interviews and undergo a polygraph examination. The polygraph was an experience in of itself! However, the experiences I had working at the NCAVC were well-worth it!
At the NCAVC, I was assigned to work in the Violent Criminal Apprehension Program (ViCAP) unit. The other three interns were assigned to work in the other three units: Behavioral Analysis Unit 1 (Counterterrorism/Threat Assessment), Behavioral Analysis Unit 2 (Crimes Against Adults), and Behavioral analysis Unit 3 (Crimes Against Children). Although, ViCAP honestly was not my initial choice, in the end I was extremely pleased and honored to work with the members of the ViCAP unit. These members dedicate themselves to collecting information on and analyzing violent crime. ViCAP itself is a computerized database of homicide and sexual assault cases and missing and unidentified persons. It is useful for law enforcement agencies because they are able to match and compare similar cases or serial cases. During my time at ViCAP, one project I worked on was the Highway Serial Killings Initiative, which was designed to collect information on violent crimes occurring near highways and to raise public awareness of these crimes. Interestingly, truck drivers, whose very mobile jobs make it easier to conceal their crimes, commit many of these crimes. I spent a great deal of time working on a timeline tracking a truck driver’s location using receipts, driving logs, and GPS coordinates. That was just one of the interesting projects I completed working with ViCAP. Coming from a strong research background and degrees in psychology and criminal justice, this was the perfect internship to enrich my learning. Much of the work I did at the NCAVC was research-related. I was extremely excited to be able to combine my two passions, psychology and criminal justice, in a research atmosphere. At the NCAVC, I was involved in research relating to child abductions and homicides, sexual crimes and paraphilias, arson filicide, and sexual aggression, among many other interesting topics. I contributed to many aspects of research from start to finish. It was the opportunity of a lifetime for me. I can honestly say that the opportunity to participate in research related to both of my chosen fields was the best part of my experience.
For those of you waiting to hear about the glamour and glitz, there was certainly plenty of that! One perk that the interns received was special presentations by the Supervisory Special Agents, Major Case Specialists, and Crime Analysts, some of whom worked on extremely well-known cases. It was an honor for them to bestow some of their knowledge and expertise onto us. We were also invited to participate in case consultations where law enforcement agencies would contact the FBI for help with their cases. I witnessed law enforcement agencies collaborating to solve cases that I was reading about in the news! In addition to the presentations and consultations, we also had “field trips.” We went to the Baltimore Medical Examiner’s, where we viewed autopsies being performed right in front of us. I am certain that it was one of the most surreal and bizarre experiences I have ever had! We also had the opportunity to help the Hostage Negotiation Unit with their training. We role-played all day long in scenarios designed to mimic real hostage situations. It was extremely exhausting but fascinating. I also shot a gun for the first time in my life at the shooting range at the FBI Academy. The interns had the chance to shoot Glock handguns and MP-5 machine guns.
During my time at the NCAVC, I experienced many things that I did not expect to experience as an intern. I learned a great deal and met many amazing, hard-working people at the FBI, including my fellow interns. I would like to sincerely thank Psi Chi for providing me with the grant to be able to have this amazing opportunity!