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Secret Service Officers speak at SHU

On April 30, 2008

"Train for one of the toughest jobs in the country. See inside an elite investigative operation that identifies and eliminates threats before they happen. Walk the rope line. Scan the crowds. Meet the agents who know that the past can repeat itself at any moment. Go inside the Secret Service."

This was the opening line that described the duties of a Secret Service officer in a film presented to students at the Secret Service Forum on Tuesday, April 28.

The forum was held at Sacred Heart University in the Edgerton Center for Performing Arts from 10 a.m. until 12 p.m. Special Agent Kent McCarthy and Special Agent Kris Tatara spoke to students about their careers in the Secret Service and the skills necessary to withhold their job.

"It's definitely a good experience. I've had the chance to work with every living president. You get to see a lot of different people. You get to go to a lot of cool places and have a lot of good experiences," said McCarthy.

McCarthy explained that Secret Service Agents are responsible for both protection as well as performing investigations. In addition to securing government officials, he described his involvement in exploiting counterfeit currency operations as well as investigating other criminal activities.

"You're standing next to history. Just last week I was in the presence of the Pope in his visit to the United States," said McCarthy.

People apply for Secret Service positions between the ages of 21 and 37 years of age. Applicants are required to have three years of educational experience beyond undergraduate school. McCarthy explained that he maintained a law degree before entering the Secret Service, while Tatara had gained experience working in the military.

"Always remember to be patient," said McCarthy. "Don't be discouraged if you don't begin as a Special Agent. You have to be willing to go through the hurdles."

McCarthy encouraged listeners to look into the U.S. Secret Service Volunteer Program. The program is an internship designated to give students the opportunity to get hands on experience in the field before deciding upon their career.

The speakers described the lengthy process required to enter the field, which included extensive training in a variety of areas including martial arts.

"If you're looking to enter the field of law enforcement, check out all of the agencies and figure out which one is best for you. There are a lot of good agencies; the secret service is not for everyone," said McCarthy.

Although both agents were very passionate about their positions, they explained that the time commitment could be difficult at certain points. McCarthy said that their schedule lacks consistency, which can interfere with their ability to spend time with their families.

"The manner in which they handle stress is the most impressive," said Professor Gary Rose of the government and politics department at Sacred Heart.

Rose arranged the forum in hopes that students would be encouraged to explore the Secret Service as a possible career outlet.

"Any form of public service is worth promoting to me," said Rose

Anyone interested in applying for the internship program can visit the Secret Service Web site at www.secretservice.gov or call the New York Field Office at 718-840-1290.

"Keep in mind, what you do now will affect your future. The things that you do now, will have an effect on your life," said McCarthy.

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