Jackson State University and the Federal Bureau of Investigation collaborated over a three-day visit with students as part of the Beacon Project. The initiative aims to build a broader representation of the African American community within the organization.
In June 2021, members of the FBI and leaders from HBCUs met in Huntsville, Alabama, to launch the Beacon Project. Jordan praises the agency for creating this opportunity for JSU students.
“I think it is a wonderful partnership between Jackson State and the FBI. I can tell that the things that were spoken about during our Spring diversity, equity and inclusion event is coming to fruition,” said Lashanda Jordan, Ph.D., director of the Career Services Center. “They talked about their efforts to recruit more minority students for positions in the FBI, and they want the FBI to look more like America.”
FBI Special Agent in Charge Jermicha Fomby said the project’s success is driven by dispelling some of the biases surrounding the agency and making itself more accessible to underrepresented communities.
“The first phase of the Beacon initiative is engaging with historically Black universities and colleges to help drive that. We recognize the high level of talent that comes from HBCUs. Also, there’s another level of diverse experience that we think is very significant to what we think the organization needs,” Fomby explained.
Fomby, who heads the FBI Field Office in Jackson, said that a common misconception is that students think only criminal justice majors qualify for a career in law enforcement. An HBCU graduate with a degree in business administration, Fomby assured them that’s not the case.
“Just because you’re not a criminal justice major doesn’t mean you’re not the right fit for us. We’re looking for talent, exposure, diverse backgrounds and experiences. I’ve never had a criminal justice class in my life,” Fomby shared during an informational session on Thursday, where agents provided JSU students with information about internships and the hiring process.
Students were also given the opportunity to participate in a mock interview.
“I thought it was very good information and received everything I needed. I’m very intrigued,” said Darian Bracey, a senior criminal justice major. “For the FBI to be on an HBCU campus, I think that’s something big. I realized many people don’t get the opportunity to sit in a room with so many agents, like today.”
The FBI concluded the weekend with a Beacon Brunch with JSU President Thomas K. Hudson, J.D., Grambling State University President Rick Gallot, and student leaders.
Fomby said this is just the beginning and shared his excitement about the agency’s efforts to become more inclusive.