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From BW Yellow Jacket to globe-trotting US Secret Service agent

Special Agent Corina Pavel '18 recently returned to her alma mater to continue a recruiting tradition that got her hooked on an international career she calls "loads of fun."



U.S. Secret Service agent Corina Pavel '18 with a matching pair of armored presidential limos, nicknamed "The Beast," in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Agents in the Philadelphia district field office are often called upon to work on presidential visits.

When Corina Pavel '18 was a first-generation college student at Baldwin Wallace University, a classroom visit by a U.S. Secret Service agent ignited a new vision for her future career path.

Pavel has a vivid memory of the excitement she felt as he shared the agency's history, dual protective/investigative mission and overall functions.

"I still have my class notes from the agent's class presentation in 2018," Pavel shares. "I will always keep that sheet of paper as a reminder of my initial excitement and to never lose that feeling as I continue in the agency."

Always interesting

After graduating with a double major in criminal justice and international studies (along with minors in political science and German), Pavel added a master's degree from Mercyhurst University before applying to the Secret Service.

Now in the early stages of her career, Pavel says she "genuinely enjoys" what she does.

"I never wanted a basic 9 to 5 job," she explains. "As agents, we travel all over the United States and the world on protection and investigative missions. Every criminal investigation is different; every protection assignment is different. This job keeps me on my toes and busy, and for me personally, that is exactly what I was looking for in a career."

Secret Service myths

Special Agent Corina Pavel '18 on the tarmac with Air Force One in Philadelphia, where she is currently stationed.

As a slender, 5-foot, 1-inch-tall woman, Pavel defies the Hollywood stereotype of Secret Service agents as big, burly all-American men.

"I was hired on as a dual citizen, born and raised in Romania, and came to the United States as a child. Even with my size and background, I was held to the same standards and went through the same training as everybody else. I was never treated any differently from the rest of my training classmates, and same goes for when I got to the Philadelphia Field Office as a fully fledged agent."

"I am extremely proud to call myself an American and profoundly grateful for all the doors that have opened for my family and I since coming here," she adds.

Honing communication skills

Pavel believes both oral presentations and written reports at BW were key in preparing her for this dream career.

"Having the ability to write well thought out, yet concise reports is crucial. Management expects me to effectively communicate key information clearly and accurately. Our reports are subject to potentially go before Congress, a judge, or a Grand Jury. The various classes I took at BW considerably helped develop my writing skills and expand my vocabulary."

"Since becoming an agent, I also have had to confidently brief my management, local/state police, military personnel, foreign security agencies/law enforcement."

Agents from all walks

Pavel notes that the Secret Service hires agents from a variety of academic disciplines and backgrounds, so any interested student can attend the agency's regular BW recruiting events like the one that brought Pavel back to campus in February.

The Secret Service sent 11 representatives to the BW event, covering administrative, professional and technical careers with the agency.

"The agency looks for hard-working and honest students who are worthy of trust and confidence, with a strong sense of self-discipline. Applicants should be confident in themselves and their abilities — yet have the desire to learn and perfect what the agency instills in and teaches them."

Faculty networking


Special Agent Corina Pavel '18 (right) with Dr. Theron Quist, one of her BW faculty mentors, at a February 2024 Secret Service recruiting event on the BW campus. Pavel is one of four BW graduates offered posts in the USSS in the past three years.

Pavel also encourages students to forge connections with BW faculty, saying she is "extremely grateful" to a long list of faculty members who "helped me get to where I am today."

"You never know who your professors know," she advises. "They have some great contacts that will guide you in the right direction to get to where you want to be. Your professors are there to help you — not only help you with class materials — but help get you what you need for your post-BW life. Lean on them and be open with them about what you want to do."

It was Dr. Theron Quist who invited that secret service agent to speak in Pavel's class back in 2018.

"I am extremely thankful for my time at BW and all the lessons learned in my four years as a student," Pavel concludes. "I am still in the very early stages of my career but am very much looking forward to what this agency has in store for me!"

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