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Liberty News

Criminal justice student learns the ropes of law enforcement as U.S. State Department intern

July 10, 2019 : By Tobi Walsh Laukaitis/Liberty University News Service

Liberty University junior Brielle Hoagland said working in Washington, D.C., has made it “the perfect summer.”

One of several students in Liberty’s Washington Fellowship, a semester-long internship program aimed at giving students a unique opportunity to live and work in the nation’s capital, Hoagland is applying the knowledge she’s learned in the criminal justice program to her internship at the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS).

“I assist a team of foreign service special agents and a security technical specialist in helping with recruitment,” Hoagland said. “A lot of it is outreach and trying to get more people interested in diplomatic security. The work I’m doing is making a difference.”

A job in law enforcement is what Hoagland has known she has wanted to do since childhood.

“I’m a military kid,” she said. “I’ve grown up with people serving around me and learning what it means to serve and dedicate yourself to something that impacts more than just yourself. The idea of protecting others and serving the nation has been a huge calling to me.”

Hoagland is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice, with a specialization in Strategic Intelligence Studies through Liberty’s Helms School of GovernmentShe said her professors bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the program.

“The professors and the staff are so wise and focused on what they do,” Hoagland said. “A couple of my professors are former FBI agents, military veterans, and police officers. They come into teaching with years of service, but also with that Christian basis.”

Hoagland said government work tends to not be black and white, but being able to glean wisdom from those who have a biblical worldview is encouraging.

“It can be hard to make decisions when you’re a Christian,” she said. “It’s not like the Bible has a specific verse of what to do when you’re faced with an intelligence crisis. But hearing their wisdom and real-life examples where they say, ‘OK, this is the situation I was in and how I dealt with it,’ is extremely helpful.”

The criminal justice program has also prepared her extensively for the internship, Hoagland said. Recently, she was able to present some of her statistical research to DS leadership.

“I wouldn’t have been able to do that successfully had it not been for my professors who really highlight group projects that require us to speak in front of our peers,” she said. “I’m also part of the Strategic Intelligence Society, so that has prepared me to write papers and debrief high-ranking officials with the information they need to know. Not even a lot of agents get to present their research, let alone an intern, to someone who is one of the chief decision makers for the Bureau.”

Hoagland encouraged any Liberty student to apply for internships through Liberty’s Career Center, which also offers a New York Fellowship.

“Joining the fellowship while you’re still in school is a good way to distinguish yourself from other students at other universities,” she said. “Working in D.C. has not only benefited my education, but also helped me learn to balance my work and personal life. I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything.”

This summer, there are 21 Liberty students participating in the Washington Fellowship program. Some of their internship placements include the National Park Service, Salvation Army, U.S. Marshals Service, and Family Research Council.

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