On Tuesday, April 5, the criminal justice and forensics clubs teamed up with the Allegheny County District Attorney’s office to host this event with Jamie Mesar, a former FBI investigator. This Zoom-exclusive event was catered to students in the criminal justice department, but the event was open to all interested Cal U students. For any Cal U crime junkies who may have missed it, rest assured: field trips, mock crime scenes and other seminars are sure to come.
The criminal justice and forensics clubs welcome students of all majors, according to criminal justice club president Brittany Brommer, a senior.
Now a professor at the University of Pittsburgh, Mesar detailed her career in assisting abused and/or neglected children during her time at the Child Advocacy Center, showing various pictures of real clients. These photos were graphic in nature, such as a child with scratch marks on their back or bruises on their face.
Her time in the FBI was discussed at length. Taking 22 months for full processing, Mesar noted that being a part of the FBI was a “big commitment.” However, she praised the wide scope of her job, noting that she was able to work in areas across the country, particularly Montana, Utah, Wyoming, Oklahoma and Idaho.
“I got to experience a lot of interesting cases,”said Mesar.
She spent time on multiple Native American reservations, realizing that her presence was clearly needed in those areas.
“An enormous amount of drug use which led to trafficking.” she said.
Mesar recounted a 14-year-old girl candidly explaining to her the details of the heroin trade, as well as how to use the lethal drug.
In her words, “It was second nature to them.”
Professor Raymond Hsieh and graduate assistant Victoria Pickford co-hosted this event through their various connections with the legal offices in Southwestern Pennsylvania like the District Attorney.
Hsieh seemed particularly excited about the outsider perspective provided by Mesar to his students. With this insider information about the FBI’s hiring process, Hsieh is confident that his students will have an edge in securing a job after graduation.
“Overall, this is a good opportunity for a criminal justice student,” he said.
Mesar’s showing was not a one-person effort. The criminal justice and forensics clubs teamed up, as they often do, to advocate for this exclusive seminar. Brommer offers up her club to anyone who has an interest in the field.
“Political science, psychology, forensic science, criminal justice, pretty much anybody that’s interested in the criminal justice field and has a passion for helping people,” she said. “We would definitely welcome them to our club.”
The criminal justice club organized many events throughout the year for the members of the clubs themselves and overall hobbyists of the field. They could be considered two of the most active clubs under the SAI umbrella according to Brommer, with the criminal justice club holding two regular meetings per month and about four events per year, not including community service events and fundraisers. With mandatory attendance requirements to be considered a true member, they expect a level of dedication that is commonplace within the professional field.
The student response to Mesar’s presentation was overly positive, and they showed real optimism for their career paths in the future. Kasee Baker, a sophomore criminal justice major, credited the presentation as surprisingly informative for her future within the criminal justice field.
“I want to learn everything about criminal justice,” she said.
She also commented on the time commitment needed to enter the FBI forensics field.
“It was a little bit of a shocker to find out that it takes that long,” she said.
Still, Kasee is confident in her choice of department, clarifying that “I think we’re heading in a good direction, even with the merger.”
Clearly, the criminal justice department does not take itself lightly, and has much to offer to interested students.
Anyone interested in joining the clubs should reach out to Brommer, Pickford or Hsieh for more information.