Five years in the Bureau, I put in for the Hostage Rescue Team, full well knowing they had not had a female complete the tryouts, not certainly then, I guess, be accepted.
So I went down there and I imagine I turned some heads. Because I showed up, all five-foot-one of me. But I am very proud to say that I completed the two weeks. I wasn’t selected to the team, but completed the two weeks—first female, as a matter of fact, a little sad for me, the only female to do that even still, that has completed the two week HRT tryouts.
I was driven by the challenge. So it never occurred to me, to be honest with you. I think back on this now, so many years later, the wherewithal, honestly, that I had to show up as a female at HRT—and I can remember showing up on that Sunday, I showed up in a little suit. And I think there were 48 of us. And the lone female standing in the room. Everybody extremely nervous. And it didn’t even occur to me that I was a female and that I was being questioned because I was a female. It just never even occurred to me.
They got us up at 3 o’clock the next morning and they ran us through the drills, and all I focused on was, you know, give it my best, and the challenge of it. And, you know, each day I survived. And there were certainly guys peeling off. It just wasn’t me. I didn’t get hurt and, yeah, I made it. I imagine probably surprised a few people.
Boxing, I knew that we were going to box. So I grabbed a couple of my guys up in New York and they hit me. We put on the gloves and the helmet and they, like, I need to know what it feels like to be hit. So let’s go at it here, and I have no idea what I’m doing but let’s box, because I know we’re going to box down there.
So, needless to say I got down there and I saw some stars, right. I survived it. And then they had a wrestling. You had to wrestle. And I was rated as the number-two wrestler out of 48 men, believe it or not. So at the end of it, although I know I really pushed their concept of what it means to be HRT, my exit interview I will tell you I was told by the team leader that I had more head, heart, and guts than anybody on there.
I was in New York for 14 years. As a matter of fact worked myself up to a senior—I worked all violent crime, a couple of different squads, fugitives for a number of years, crimes against children, civil rights, assaulting fellow officers, that kind of stuff. And then I was there 9/11.
And that really became a pivotal moment for me, because I was 14 years in as a street agent. I had not really considered management, but it was clear to me there was a whole different fight that was just brought to us. And I wanted to be part of it. And at 14 years in the Bureau I thought management was the way for me to add to that fight.
I’m 24 years in the Bureau now. I cracked the ceiling. I have played a big part in cracking the ceiling and showing that there are many things that a female equally can do that a guy can do. There’s strengths and weaknesses that we all bring. And I believe that I’ve shown a lot of strengths from a female’s perspective that have served me well.
In the last 10 years I’ve logged six or more management positions. And I have moved through it. But I still don’t see myself as doing it as a female. Even currently as an SAC of counterterrorism at the Washington Field Office I don’t—I’ve just never seen myself as a female first. It’s just a job and I happen to be a female.