- Category: Volume 88 (Fall 2016 - Spring 2017)
- Published: 18 November 2016
- Written by GIANA BRUCELLA | STAFF WRITER
Monmouth University alumnus and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent Brian Cotter attracted over 60 students when he spoke at a Guardians Club meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 9 in Magill Commons.
Cotter graduated from the FBI Academy this past February and now works for the Counterterrorism Task Force in New York City. He shared how his experiences at Monmouth prepared him for his future in the FBI.
Cotter was a brother of the Sigma Pi fraternity and a study abroad student. He stressed the importance of networking and getting out of your comfort zone in order to be successful in whatever career path you choose. Cotter said that his semester abroad “was the best experience of my whole life,” and encouraged the students to take advantage of the opportunity.
Cotter has also participated in the Washington Center Internship program that the University offers to students each semester. The internship allows students to get experience working in places such as the White House, the United States Congress, and the Department of Defense.
“Brian is a terrific person and a great success story. MU has had 120 students participate in the Washington Semester over the past 10 years and many others have also secured prestigious jobs in DC after participating in the program. We have several MU alum now working in the FBI and intelligence agencies, other who have secured positions in the US Dept of State, the US Congress, and other prestigious placements around the federal government,” said Joseph Patten, Associate Professor of Political Science. “I also interned with the Washington Center when I was an undergraduate in Congress and secured my first job from a contact I developed in the program. I now also serve on the Washington Center’s liaison board which helps me advocate for top placements for our students.”
Prior to obtaining his dream job as a special agent, Cotter worked as a Paralegal for a law firm, an Administrator for the director of an Army Intelligence branch in the Pentagon, and spent 11 months as an Operations Officer in Afghanistan. Cotter said that students may have other jobs before they reach their dream jobs, yet they should, “do the job really well…and you’ll get an awesome recommendation.”
After finally getting accepted into the FBI Academy, Cotter promptly moved from DC to Quantico where he spent five months in training. When the five months were up, Cotter had what is called “Offer Night,” when the newly trained agents are allocated to one out of the 56 FBI locations. Cotter was assigned to his top choice: New York City. Part of his job consists of covering counter terrorism cases, such as the recent bombing incident in Chelsea, Manhattan on September 17.
Cotter’s presentation not only disclosed how he achieved his dream career, but that he did it with persistence. Senior homeland security student, and sary of the Guardians Club, Brianna Piazza, said, “I learned that it is okay to now know what you want to do immediately after college, you will fail and get rejected but it is important to keep working toward your goal.”
Criminal justice professor and Advisor of the Guardians Club, Nicholas Sewitch, was responsible for organizing the event. He tries to get alumni of the University who have careers in the FBI or other branches of Law Enforcement to speak in club meetings.
He said, “It helps to show what our alumni can do, as role models for students. Brian Cotter, had the same dream and goal as many students, and accomplished it.”
Sewitch appreciated that Cotter contacted the University, because he wanted to share his success in the FBI with his Alma Mater.
He said the importance of having guest speakers is so, “our faculty to create a bridge between our alumni and our students. If we can hook them up with someone who is an alumnus is that much more powerful and valuable.”
The Guardians Club is mainly composed of students who are interested in criminal justice and homeland security, but is open to all majors. Also Vice President of the club, Noel Labb, a senior and homeland security major, said, “I like that this club isn’t just for the criminal justice and homeland security majors, and that it is open to all majors. It gives each student an equal opportunity to hear from people in fields ranging from FBI, Criminal Intelligence Agency, State Police, Drug Enforcement Administration, Parole. It also gives students a chance to network and ask speakers any questions they might have, and how to get where they are.
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