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Local student speaks on FBI Academy experience

Local student speaks on FBI Academy experience


Langston: ‘So grateful for this amazing opportunity’ West Junior High ninth-grader Riley Langston is pretty busy these days, playing tennis for the Blue Devils and volleyball for the West Blue Imps, but over the summer, she had the opportunity to be a part of a special group of students selected to be a part of the 21st Session of the FBI National Academy Associates Youth Leadership Program. Langston, who is the daughter of West Memphis Assistant Police Chief Robert Langston and Richland Elementary Assistant Principal Norrita Langston, attended the 8-day academy program in Quanitco, Virginia, back in June.

And last Wednesday evening, she had the opportunity to speak at the Winthrop Rockefeller Center to the Arkansas Chapter of the FBI National Academy Associates and tell them all about her experience at the FBI Academy this summer.

She thanked the FBINAA Arkansas Chapter for sending her. A candidate must submit his or her GPA and community involvement, write an essay on leadership and submit letters of recommendation, followed by a phone interview with three people simultaneously across the state. Once selected as an Arkansas representative, the FBI had final approval of the nominees.

“We experienced and learned so much,” said Langston. “It is something I will honestly never forget.”

She drew a few laughs from the audience, including a story about introducing herself as from Arkansas.

“I can tell from the accent,” she said one fellow academy participant told her. “Y’all, I don’t think we have an accent… but we became good friends.”

The focus on the program, Langston explained, was leadership “During my time in the program we learned all about leadership skills and not to leave anyone behind,” she said.

Part of that lesson was to carry a kettle bell everywhere they went as a representation of that responsibility.

“They taught us you’re only as strong as your weakest link, so leaders have to work together to make sure everyone grows,” she said.

Langston recalled some of the attributes she picked up about leadership.

“You have to be prepared mentally and physically at all times,” she recalled.

“It’s not about a title or a position. Being a leader means being willing to step up, work hard, and take risks.”

She said it comes down to two words: “Never Quit.”

“We were told there’s always ‘one more thing’ you can do to make a situation work out in your favor,”

She also said that the true power of leadership comes from the power of the truth, outlining the five levels of truth-telling.

“Be truthful with yourself about yourself.”

“Be truthful with others about yourself.”

“Be truthful to yourself about others.”

“Be truthful to others about others.”

And finally, “Tell the truth about everything to everyone.”

She said the program was a great way for participants to get out of their comfort zones and grow as leaders.

“They asked us, ‘What can you do to change the world in your community?’” she said.

Part of the experience included physical training, beginning early each morning, that included running, workouts, and other exercises, culminating in “Yellow Brick Road Day.”

“We had to run,” she said.

“It was miles and miles, and once you finished, you had to turn around and go back for the ones who hadn’t finished yet. It wasn’t just an individual thing. It was a real team effort, and it was a great experience… even with everyone throwing up and stuff.”

But it wasn’t all business, she said. As part of the experience, she got to tour Washington, D.C, and the U.S. Marine Basic Training School. “Watching the marines train was an amazing experience,” she said. “And we got to shoot and M5 Automatic, which was very cool.”

Langston said she made what she believes will be lifelong friends at the academy, referring to them as her “59 other brothers and sisters.”

“We have a group chat going,” she said. “We’re keeping up with everyone and what they’re doing.

We’re planning on getting together in five years or so, maybe down in Mexico… once we’re all legal adults.”

Langston closed her remarks by again thanking the FBINAA for sending her.

“When I found out I was selected, I was so excited, she said. “And I’m very grateful for the opportunity.”

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