On Post

Secret Service Visits Post to Recruit Top Talent

woman talks to VMI cadet

Kimberly Cheatle (left), U.S. Secret Service director, chats with a cadet in Crozet Hall.—VMI Photo by H. Lockwood McLaughlin.

Kimberly Cheatle, 27th director of the U.S. Secret Service, along with a large contingent of agents—including VMI alumni and The Citadel alumni—made a special recruiting trip to VMI recently.

Saturday morning began with the team’s arrival to post in multiple black SUVs and an armored bus used for recruitment purposes, as well as transporting people under their protection, including presidential candidates. They were given a tour of barracks, where they chatted with a select group of cadets, followed by a walk to Crozet Hall, where they ate lunch with cadets and talked with them about career opportunities.

Cheatle shared that her team has gone on many recruiting trips to colleges and universities over the last several years, but their partnership with VMI is special. “One of the things that is instilled in VMI cadets is service to something greater than themselves. That is what we look for at the Secret Service. VMI has a little different atmosphere than what you’ll find on the typical college campus. The skills the cadets learn and develop, enabling them to grow into leaders, are the same skills we use at the Secret Service,” she said.

Cheatle is confident that the relationship with VMI will continue and expand. “There are many different career opportunities with the Secret Service. We encourage college students to establish their relationships with us early, even if it’s just finding a mentor or coach within the Secret Service who will talk to them and guide them with career paths. Internships are also available within our offices,” she said.

Jim Kingsley ’05, who majored in history, holds the position of assistant to the special agent in charge in the Protective Intelligence and Assessment Division, based at Secret Service headquarters in Washington, D.C. Before that, he was on the Presidential Protective Detail and traveled extensively throughout the world, providing protection to the president’s family. Kingsley stated that alumni can best relate to what cadets are going through because they have gone through the exact thing themselves. “A lot of the traits the cadets already possess, like camaraderie, teamwork, discipline, and attention to detail, carry over to the Secret Service, where we share a lot of camaraderie. Some of the greatest friendships of my life I have made here at VMI, and it’s fun to come back and be able to talk to the cadets,” he said.

Cadet Kephner Etienne ’25, an electrical and computer engineering major from Bristow, Virginia, is interested in a career with the Secret Service. “My brother is [an] NYPD cop, and I always wanted to work for the FBI or Secret Service. I think they both have great opportunities. The Secret Service people here today all have positive attitudes, and they do a good job of recruiting. To be honest, they already got me last year. I think working with them in the future will be awesome,” he said.

After lunch, the group attended the VMI basketball game against The Citadel, where they were acknowledged as special guests of the Institute. The Keydets defeated the Bulldogs, 70-63.

The mission of the Secret Service is to ensure the safety and security of their protectees, key locations, and events of national significance. They also protect the integrity of the U.S. currency and investigate crimes against the U.S. financial system committed by criminals around the world and in cyberspace.