Colleen Conyngham wishes she could say being in law enforcement was her dream in life.
The former Wyoming Valley resident attended Hanover Area High School and Bloomsburg University, graduating with a degree in business administration.
Recently, the 52-year-old was appointed Special Agent in Charge of the administrative division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's field office in Washington, D.C.
I didn't know I wanted to get into law enforcement … but I liked the investigative part of my first job as a claims representative with an insurance company, Conyngham said in a recent interview from the Washington, D.C., office.
Conyngham, who grew up in Hanover Township, has held many positions within the FBI during the past 22 years and said she worked hard to reach her newest post.
This is a senior, executive-level position. … It's very competitive, Conyngham said. I did compete for it, and I definitely anticipated I wanted to be here.
After her first job in the insurance world introduced her to investigative work, Conyngham's father suggested she pursue law enforcement.
She said she was going to go back to school to earn her master's degree, but then found that the U.S. Marshals Service was hiring 300 deputies.
Did I want to be in academics, or did I want to be right in the action? Conyngham remembered asking herself. I became a deputy and did that for four years.
As a deputy, Conyngham said she did everything from looking for fugitives to assisting with the U.S. Federal Witness Protection Program.
After working closely with the FBI on assignments, agents began talking to Conyngham about working for the FBI, and so her career there began in 1990.
In her first few years with the FBI, Conyngham worked in San Juan, Puerto Rico, for about three years investigating violent crimes and gang activity.
She then worked for the Miami, Fla., division investigating violent crimes and worked in an undercover capacity in an investigation called MedWeb.
During the next 10 years, Conyngham worked as an assistant legal attachÃ© in Bogota, Colombia, and then returned to San Juan to work as a special agent of a public-corruption and civil-rights squad.
From 2004-07, Conyngham worked in a number of administrative positions within the FBI. She most recently worked as a section chief in the security division at the FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C.
In her new position, Conyngham said she'll oversee administrative support of 1,600 personnel at the Washington, D.C., office, including recruiting agents, managing a budget and making sure training is up to date.
Had she bypassed the FBI, Conyngham says, she never would have traveled to the places she did.
I never dreamed taking Spanish … at Hanover (Area) would come in handy and that I would expand on that and become proficient and fluent in Spanish, Conyngham said. (Traveling has been) a wonderful experience.
Conyngham said no matter what your dream is, dream big and know that it's possible. Just go for it. Work hard, study hard and dream big, she said.
Conyngham said she has a few aunts, cousins and friends who still live in the Wyoming Valley and says what she misses most about the area is the community.
I miss the genuineness of people that you don't always get in the big city, Conyngham said. Everyone knows everyone.
Conyngham recalled her childhood in Hanover Township, where locking your doors wasn't necessary, and said she often thinks of teachers she had while attending high school.
I think about them and the things that they instilled in me, Conyngham said. They challenged us, and a work ethic was instilled in me.