Elena plays the role as attorney for Esperanza Academy in the Opera Mock Trial. (Photo: Credit/Sierra Guenst)

Meet Elena Feliciano, a junior at Esperanza Academy High School. This past summer, she gained entrance into the prestigious FBI Teen Academy. It is a stepping stone on her path towards becoming a trusted community defender.

Elena Feliciano desires to be a homicide detective. Her plans include studying criminal justice at either Temple or Drexel University and then working her way into the FBI. Elena sees deep issues like violence and drug abuse affecting her community. She says she wants to enter the police force to be someone that the community can trust. “I’m a sentimental person, and I like to help others. That’s mainly what led me to this career path,” she said.

Elena Feliciano meets the FBI agent who sent her the acceptance letter into the program. (Photo: Credit/Evelin Ventura-Garcia)

Her passions of service, protection, and community engagement have aligned in her high school major of choice: law. The law major at Esperanza Academy High School, run by Mr. Kyle Riley, is a chance for students to see the inner workings of the justice system. The major trains students in debate through mock trial competitions, meets with city officials and attorneys, and culminates in a senior-year internship with Esperanza’s legal team.

Elena (on right) meets fellow Esperanza Academy student, Evelin (left), and new friend at the FBI Teen Academy.

This past summer, Elena scored an internship with Ceiba, a Philadelphia non-profit organization assisting the Latino community. Their mission is to, “promote the economic development and financial inclusion of the Latino community through collaborations and advocacy aimed at ensuring their access to quality housing.” While Elena’s internship has given her opportunities to see tax preparation processes, she shared with the organization about her goal to join law enforcement. They introduced her to the FBI Teen Program, and soon the FBI knew they had found the perfect candidate for their summer program.

Elena wears a suit for evidence collection at the FBI Teen Academy. (Photo: Credit/Kate Tangos)
The teens wear suits to keep their fibers from mixing with fibers at the scene during evidence collection of the case. (Photo: Credit/Kate Tangos)

During the program, the FBI peeled back the curtain and gave Elena and other teens a glimpse into day-to-day operations in the office. They also allowed for hands-on and engaging lessons surrounding cybercrime, handling evidence, terrorism, and polygraph machines. Students spoke with agents, SWAT members, specialists, and investigators. 

The FBI Teen Academy only confirmed to Elena that she is on the right track!

Esperanza Academy feels strongly about preparing our students with a surplus of resources and tools so that students are ready for their next steps. As Elena traverses mock trials, internships, and experiences with the legal field, they look forward to cheering her on every step of the way. They have seen her articulate her thoughts clearly, advocate for the voiceless, and stand for integrity. In whatever path she chooses, they know she will make a difference, and Esperanza Academy is grateful to have her!


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