100 Years of African-American Special Agents: Nicole Sinegar

Special Agent Nicole Sinegar has served for 11 years in the FBI. She shared her thoughts on her career, the FBI, and the role of African Americans during events in November 2019 marking the 100-year anniversary of the first African-American special agent, James Wormley Jones.

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I actually had members of my family to tell me that I wouldn't be able to do it because the FBI didn't hire black people. This was in high school. I didn't know much about the agency, but that was the first bit of information I received about a federal agency was that I couldn't do it. So, I took that as a challenge and I spoke to one of my instructors in high school, Mr. Plassic, and he educated me on what the FBI was and how I could possibly get there. And so I started to structure my education and my career after that point to make myself most competitive for the job.

My focus was to make it; I had no other options like some other agents. During that time, I was one of the only black female agents at Quantico period, although there were other classes. But I can say that my classmates embraced me. They helped me along just like I helped them, which helped me to see that maybe I did have a place here in the FBI.

The FBI cannot be most impactful if we do not have diverse thought and diverse action. The way I think and the way I would handle a certain situation would be totally different than a person from a different background. Someone who studied different subject matter, someone who had a different walk of life, a female's perspective on a situation, the way a female would handle a victim of a violent crime is totally different than the way a male would. So, diversity is not only about race, diversity is a diverse thought, diverse action, and how we could actually bring those things together to help push the FBI mission.

For me, it's a time of celebration. It is definitely a time of reflection and gratitude and most important of the three would be gratitude. Because if there wasn't that one agent who had the courage to step out and say, hey, I'm going to do this thing that I don't see anyone else doing, that looks like me, I wouldn't be here. And who would have ever thought that the young girl from Lower Ninth Ward, New Orleans could sit in this chair and say, hey, I'm a special agent. I can do it and so can you. So, to me, 100 years of African-American agents in the FBI means, hey, I'm going to celebrate those who came before me. I'm going to celebrate where I am now. And I definitely want to celebrate those who will follow me because it's necessary and it's very important.

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