Jeremy Ventura '13 is not your average college student. Twice a week, Ventura spends his days alongside agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, supporting their efforts to take drugs and guns off the streets of the southeastern Massachusetts communities of Brockton, Fall River and New Bedford.
Ventura is completing a coveted internship with the ATF's office in Bridgewater, Mass., a field office of the bureau's main branch in Boston. Each day he shadows two supervisors - an ATF agent and a Fall River police officer assigned to the ATF.
"Anywhere they go, I'll go," Ventura says. "We do a lot of sting operations, so I get to monitor and listen to wires or bugging taps inside a vehicle. The exciting part is, I actually get to go in the field with them and participate and engage in these transactions between agents and confidential informants and the actual targets."
In addition to providing Ventura with real-world experience, the ATF internship has further solidified his career aspirations. "Federal law enforcement is definitely the way I want to go," he says. "By doing this internship, I get the whole range of experience from the federal side." He hopes to work for a federal agency such as the ATF, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Drug Enforcement Administration or the Department of State.
The ATF internship program is highly competitive, but Ventura found that a little networking went a long way in his application process. Having previously completed a summer-long internship with the Fall River Police Department, he was referred to the ATF by the Fall River police chief, who is also a Salve Regina alumnus.
"It's not necessarily who you know, but who knows you," says Ventura, who will enter the University's joint bachelor's/master's program next year to complete a master's degree in administration of justice and homeland security. "Connect, network - because sometimes, at the end of the day, that can be way more important than your GPA."
Ventura's work ethic stems in part from an extracurricular activity he has pursued since the fourth grade: drumming. He won two world championships as a member of Dartmouth High School's indoor percussion ensemble, has toured nationwide with the Blue Stars drum and bugle corps and has taught percussion groups in five different school districts over the past three years.
"It's definitely helped me be a better time manager," says Ventura, who often spent four or five hours per night practicing with his high school ensemble. "It applies to everything I do now - the way I look at my schoolwork, how I got the internships, making connections and networking, or possible jobs in the future.
Salve Regina, Ventura adds, has prepared him well. "The professors are from all different branches - you could have a professor from the FBI, a chief of police from the local police department, an attorney, a judge," he says. "That is the best part about Salve - there's always someone here for what you want to do. It's so well organized and diverse that you definitely have the spectrum and the realm to get anywhere you want."