Agent Jenelle Janabajal Describes Joining FBI

Jenelle Janabajal, a special agent in the Corpus Christi office of the FBI’s Houston Division, was in the U.S. Marine Corps and attended law school before joining the Bureau.

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Unlike a lot of people that are here in the Bureau, I never considered the FBI as a career. I didn’t grow up thinking about it. I’ve never even considered it as a career possibility for me. Um, I’m originally from Florida and I attended the University of Florida in Gainesville. Got my undergraduate degree in sociology. During my first year of undergraduate, I joined the United States Marine Corps through a program that allows you to do your training in the summers and then defer your active duty obligation until after your graduate. And so that’s what I did.

After undergrad, I went on to law school, got my law degree, and then after I graduated from law school, I went on and did four and a half years of active duty as a Marine Corps judge advocate. My neighbor at the time was an FBI agent and over the years he had befriended our family and our families had gotten very close and so when the time came for me to leave active duty, we talked about what I was going to do next and I let him know that I was interested in still serving in some capacity. And, so, he recommended that I look into the FBI and consider that as a career option. And so I did. And here I am.

Pretty much everything was surprising to me when I joined the Bureau. I really didn’t know what to expect. Most of my ideas of the Bureau came from movies and TV shows and books and things like that so none of it was actually what happens. So a lot of it was surprising to me. 

I was thankful that somebody who was in the Bureau reached out to me and said “Hey, you might want to look at this.” I think a lot of people have in their mind what the FBI is and what the FBI does and what an FBI agent looks like. And I think what we’re trying to do here tonight is maybe change some of those ideas and just let them know that the FBI might be different than you think and anybody can be an FBI agent.

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