SAN ANTONIO – FBI special agent Sandra Torres never gave any thought to joining the bureau until she was well into what she thought was her future career.
“After 10 years working project management at the city of Phoenix, a colleague of mine announced he's off to the FBI academy, and I thought we have similar backgrounds and education. That sounds interesting,” Torres said.
Six months later, Torres was at Quantico, beginning a new chapter in her life.
“It's rewarding; it's exciting. I get to travel, so I highly recommend this position, this career, to anybody,” she said.
Torres is a rare special agent. More than 80 percent of special agents are white and nearly two of every three agents is a white male.
“Coming from east El Paso, speaking Spanish, considering myself bicultural, I found that I actually added value to being in the bureau,” Torres said. “When I was the only minority or Latina at the table, I found myself thinking, 'Gosh, I actually have a different perspective and I need to speak up.' And more and more, I've been welcomed and encouraged to do so by my chain of command.”
“What we're trying to do is get the word out, frankly, to communities that don't always think about law enforcement,” said Special Agent in Charge Christopher Combs, who leads the San Antonio field office. “You can't have all New York Irish guys on a surveillance team. In certain neighborhoods, that's just not going to work.”
On Tuesday, the FBI will hold a Diversity Agent Recruitment event at the Gonzalez Convention Center. It’s by invitation only, but U.S. citizens ages 23-36, with at least a bachelor’s degree and three years’ work experience are encouraged to apply.
Interested individuals can log onto www.fbijobs.gov and click on “Apply to Jobs.” Then search “DAR” and click on “DAR San Antonio Talent Network.” Finally, read the job summary instructions and click “Start” to begin.
Those selected with get the opportunity to meet agents who work in a variety of fields in the FBI.
“You can come and speak to a real agent and maybe ask them questions of what your concerns are,” Combs said. “What's it like to be a married woman with a family in the FBI? It's very doable. What's it like to be an African-American, a Hispanic agent?”
“I never thought of this, so if there's anyone out there that tells me, 'Well, I'm already in my 30s and I already have a degree in math or something totally unrelated.’ I would say, if you're at all interested, just apply,” Torres said.