|Pictured from left to right are Priscilla Garza and Cassandra Alexander, both juniors at IDEA Quest College Preparatory in Edinburg, collecting fingerprints during the Got Intelligence? 2010 Summer Institute.|
Approximately 60 Valley students attended this year's camp, an increase from the 25 participants in 2006 when the program first started. They were selected through a competitive application process based on grades and career interests. Applicants must be in high school, provide two recommendation letters and transcripts and have a cumulative GPA of 3.0. Despite the requirements, Citlalli Garcia, IGKNU program coordinator, said that the program has increased to the point that counselors from local school districts are calling for information on the camp because they have a number of students interested in attending.
"We have educators who contact us early in the year to get information on our program and start promoting it to their students," Garcia said. "Counselors are constantly asking us for information on when the next camp will be held because it has such a great impact on students."
The "Got Intelligence?" camp was free and offered students an array of subjects in various disciplines. Participants had a chance to gain first-hand knowledge in Global Positioning Systems (GPS); criminal fingerprinting, where students learned how to collect evidence and pick up fingerprints from glass surfaces; footprint casting, in which students learned the basics of casting footprints left behind in a crime scene; forensics; remote sensing; and an FBI mentoring program. Sessions were presented by forensics and criminal justice faculty from The University of Texas at Brownsville and local border patrol and FBI agents.
"We want to instill in students that everything in life gives you knowledge and knowing a little bit about every discipline will pay off someday," Garcia said. "We hope they can have the thirst of knowing, asking and wanting to learn because in the future there will be an interconnective world that will deal with knowing more than just one discipline."
Garcia said, overall, students have had a great response to the camp, which is evident in the number of them who come back for two or three years in a row. Since the camp is interdisciplinary, we have students engaged in many different activities, especially those related to their interests, Garcia said.
Cynthia Martinez, a junior at Weslaco East High School, said she has learned a lot of things she did not know.
"It has been a good experience, I have learned a lot about the subject of law enforcement and laws," Martinez said. "I am glad that I applied and was chosen to attend because this will look good on my resume and will show that I have experience and knowledge in these fields."
Martinez said she has always been interested in the subject of law and hopes to pursue a career as a social worker for Child Protective Services.
"I have really liked this camp and I would love to do it again next year," Martinez said.
Garcia said in the future IGKNU hopes to reach out to more students who may otherwise not have the opportunity of being offered a program like this. IGKNU was created through a grant from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in 2006. The program is aimed at academia focusing on integrating various disciplines of intelligence such as national security and analysis. This is the only program of its kind in the Valley. There are two more universities in Texas and 17 other institutions throughout the country that have implemented the program.
"It's very good for the Valley to have this kind of support for a program like this," said Garcia. "We want to teach them all these disciplines and new technology to broaden their horizons."
For more information on IGKNU and Got Intelligence, contact Garcia at (956) 665-8089.