Chester Griffith’s fascination with the human mind all started with a Christmas gift.


“In seventh grade, my mom got me a book called ‘Psychology for Dummies,’” said 16-year-old Griffith. “She would always use reverse psychology on me and I didn’t really know what it was, so she got me the book as a joke.”


 

Chester Griffith’s fascination with the human mind all started with a Christmas gift.

“In seventh grade, my mom got me a book called ‘Psychology for Dummies,’” said 16-year-old Griffith. “She would always use reverse psychology on me and I didn’t really know what it was, so she got me the book as a joke.”

But Griffith is no dummy. He started reading the book and it sparked his interest. The Washington Community High School sophomore hopes to study criminology in college and someday become a criminal profiler.

“Studying the human mind is an intriguing thing and I’d like to find out more,” he said.

He had the chance to find out more about the topic this summer at the United States Marine Corps base in Quantico, Va., where he was a participant in the FBI’s National Academy Associates Youth Leadership Program.

“He was one of 50 in the world selected to attend,” said Tazewell County Sheriff Robert Huston. “It’s a big deal and a real honor.”

Griffith was sponsored by Huston, a graduate of the 210th session of the FBI National Academy and 2007 president of the Illinois FBI National Academy Associates, Railsplitters Division.

“Having been involved in the process in 2007, I knew that Chet was exactly the kind of person that they’re looking for to participate in this program,” Huston said.

Griffith is a member of the Tazewell County Youth Board, sponsored by the Tazewell County Health Department. It was through this board that he first learned of the academy. He applied for one of the coveted spots.

“I had to go to an interview first and then I had to talk to Sheriff Huston and he thought I’d be a good candidate, so then I had a final interview and they offered me the chance to go to the academy,” Griffith said.

As a then 15-year-old just entering the summer after his freshman year of high school, Griffith said the process was a bit nerve-racking.

“Especially since I didn’t really know much about FBI, law and order,” he said. “It was also my first interview, so I had to wear a business suit. It was all so new to me.”

Griffith said he was a bit surprised when he found out he was selected, although he thought he had a “pretty good chance.”

While in Quantico, Griffith said the 18-hour days included 10 hours of academic studies, five hours of physical training and three hours for meals. But during those long days, he still found time to make a few new friends.

“There were a lot of people there from all over the country, and six from foreign countries,” he said. “I really wanted to make relationships with them because I think making relationships is one of the most important things you can do in the world because it’s so big and there are so many people that we’ll never get to know. We exchanged phone numbers and made a page on Facebook, so we’ll keep in touch that way.”

The FBI National Academy Associates is an organization comprised of graduates of the FBI National Academy program — a 10-week training and education program located on the United States Marine Corps base in Quantico, Va. The organization has sponsored the youth leadership program for the past 13 years.

Because he has taken honors courses — which allow for extra credit — Griffith has a 4.33 GPA on a 4.0 scale at WCHS, where he also plays football, basketball and tennis. He is a member of the Pep Club, Spanish Club and has participated in several leadership groups and activities.

Participating in the academy reiterated Griffith’s plan for the future.

“This has just taken me to the next level,” said Griffith, who added that the program gave him a lot of experience and insight regarding the profession.

Griffith said he hopes to attend college at an institution close to home where he can get a great education and continue his studies on the human mind, which started all those years ago with a book.