Mid-Carolina Junior Joshua Swindler had his chance to live in his dad’s and brother’s shoes as he spent a week at the FBI Academy.
Swindler was chosen to represent the S.C. Chapter of the FBI National Academy Associates at the FBI National Academy Associates Youth Leadership Program.
The varsity football player had to fill out an application and write an essay to be in the running to represent the state. Along with six or seven others that were interviewed by a local panel, Swindler was selected to attend the 15th session for the eight day camp.
Most states can only send one person to the program a year and there are also foreign students. Swindler roomed with a student from the Philippians.
Swindler then had to read a leadership book before attending the conference at the FBI Academy and do a project on it while there.
The days at the leadership program were long with Swindler rising before 5 a.m. From 5 to 7 a.m. the group did physical training.
The teens endured 58 hours of classroom time with speakers and leadership classes.
The days for the group ended after 10:30 each night.
Swindler learned about topics ranging from ethics, to a dress code to personal finances.
“They worked to inspire us to be good leaders, speakers, good citizens and how to dress and carry ourselves,” said Swindler.
One exercise they students did repeatedly included drawing a topic from a hat. The student had 10 seconds to study the topic and then had to speak on it for a minute.
One of his favorite speakers was the oldest living Marine that had earned the medal of honor.
A day at the program was spent in Washington, D.C. where the group toured the war monuments, Arlington, the White House and got a special tour of the Capitol that included going into the house chambers.
The class was also the first ever to go on the firing range where they got to shoot MP5s.
Despite having his appendix out just a couple weeks before, Swindler also ran the famous Yellow Brick Road.
At the end of the class the teens had to pass a final exam and fitness test in order to graduate.
Also Swindler did not know until the end of the class but former FBI director Louis Freeh’s son was in his section.
But maybe the most profound part of the training was Swindler cementing his decision for a career.
“I now know what I want to do for a career,” he said.
A counselor at the program has inspired Swindler to be either a Marine or Navy pilot.
Swindler added he and the counselor are emailing and the counselor is working to get Swindler into a two week youth leadership program at the Naval Academy for next summer.
Swindler’s dad, Newberry Police Chief Jackie Swindler attended the FBI Academy at the age of 26 while working for the local police department. His brother, Jackson Swindler, attended the leadership training a couple of years ago.