By STEVEN VIERA
EAST BRUNSWICK — One high school student isn’t waiting until college to begin pursuing her dream job.
Alexandra Woods, a rising junior at East Brunswick High School, represented the township at the National Youth Leadership Forum’s (NYLF) “Law & CSI” program, held in Washington, D.C., from July 24-29.
The program teaches participants about the entire judicial process, including the law and both collection and analysis of evidence, through a series of hands-on activities and professional lecturers.
Woods, who hopes to pursue a career in criminal justice with the eventual goal of becoming an FBI agent, was anonymously nominated by one of her teachers to participate in the program. Once nominated, she needed to complete a rigorous application process in order to be chosen by the NYLF.
“The application process was rather intense; I had to write an essay on my extracurricular [and] volunteer activities,” she said, noting that she described her role as an ambassador raising funds for athletes in the Special Olympics New Jersey for the past six years.
“I also had to complete a self-assessment about my work ethic and life goals and provide a list of five mentors to perform an assessment on my strengths and development opportunity areas,” she continued.
NYLF’s curriculum taught Woods the basics of forensics, criminal profiling and procedures to swab for DNA, collect hair samples and record fiber print analysis. She also took part in a mock trial along with her fellow participants and examined a case, role-played as judges and lawyers for both the petitioner and respondent, argued a position and rendered a final decision.
Woods also enjoyed the program’s speakers, like John Douglas, founder of the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit, and her “personal inspiration,” Detective Derek Hardy.
“I found the whole experience to be transformational. I was constantly learning and constantly meeting new people from all over the country with different perspectives and different views on the world,” she said.
In addition to learning about the law and criminal investigations, Woods also spent time at George Madison University to learn about what colleges look for in applicants and made a number of new friends and professional connections.
“I can honestly say that I had that ‘light switch moment’ when I was able to visualize my future and build a plan for that future,” she said. “It truly was a life-changing experience.”
Contact Steven Viera at firstname.lastname@example.org.