WILTON, Iowa–Abram Jirak’s interest in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Youth Leadership Program has deep roots. His father, Muscatine Police Officer Jeff Jirak, graduated from the FBI National Academy in 2007 and he first heard about it then. When Abram got old enough to apply for it, his dad told him about it and Abram though it sounded like a cool experience. After applying as a 14-year-old and then having to wait another year to apply again due to COVID, Abram received admission into the nine day long program this year, an experience he considered life changing.
From June 24 through July 2, Abram stayed and participated in classes at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. Over the course of the program, Abram shared that he and the other 58 students in attendance got to learn about all sorts of different types of leadership, including situational leadership, which helps you lead under all different circumstances; ethical leadership, or how to lead based on your personal beliefs; and even bad leadership, or what not to do when in charge of a situation.
To complement these classroom sessions, the program also included several trips to different sites in the region as well as the Washington D. C. area. Abram particularly enjoyed getting to see FBI agents train and having a guide talk to them about Emergency Vehicle Operations Course training while watching several drivers demonstrate their skills.
Abram also appreciated the opportunity to meet students from distant states. He enjoyed making friends with other attendees from as far away as Alaska, Maine, and Texas and getting to connect with so many other like-minded teens.
Now that Abram has completed the program, he feels that he has the skills to help him lead in a variety of situations, no matter where life takes him. “I think it will help me with whatever career I follow, both with leadership skills and teaching them to others, like my kids or coworkers,” he mused. Abram also expressed thanks to his parents and teachers for helping him develop the academic and civic skills that he needed to get accepted into the program and for all of the program facilitators who gave him such a memorable experience.
He also valued the chance he had to participate in the program and learn life-long skills, and he hopes others will too. “I’m honored that I was chosen because I believe that there were dozens of other people from Iowa and I was selected,” he said: “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. You get to go through a program led by the FBI and meet people from all around the country, and sometimes the world.”
A senior at Wilton Junior-Senior High School, Abram looks forward to putting his leadership skills to good use in whatever career path he chooses. Currently, Abram is considering several different post high school opportunities, including studying electrical engineering at Iowa State University, enlisting in the military and specializing in electrical engineering, or possibly training as an FBI Agent. Whatever path he selects, he hopes to incorporate the interest in electricity he developed through taking computer programing classes that incorporate robotics. Abram also looks to use his leadership skills in his extracurricular activities, including basketball and volunteering at his church.