Islanders Become ‘Special Agents for a Day’ During IRS Citizen Academy

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Islander students got a firsthand look at life behind the badge during the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Citizen Academy, a simulation experience providing both mentorship and education for students looking for a possible career as an IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) special agent. The more than two-decade-old program, previously known as the Adrian Project, was co-hosted by the Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi College of Business (COB), the TAMU-CC College of Liberal Arts, and the IRS-CI.

During the five-hour simulation event held in numerous rooms in the TAMU-CC University Center, more than 20 Islander students from different disciplines learned the ins and outs of an investigation and how to track illicit money from the crime to the criminal.

Students began the day by taking an oath of office before being assigned their official case study. They then worked through the criminal investigation process alongside IRS-CI special agents and learned how to obtain a search warrant, analyze evidence, arrest a suspect, and present their case in a court of law. During the search warrant scenario, students wore badges and vests and carried handcuffs and fake guns to simulate the day-to-day experiences involved in real crimes.

“To be able to step into the field for the day alongside the real professionals is not something everyone has a chance to do,” said Daniel Nye ’24, TAMU-CC finance major. “Reading a career choice you’re interested in is one thing, but today I got to learn firsthand and find out what life could be like on the inside.”

Leading the charge for the IRS-CI was special agent Mark Wilson. Wilson has been with IRS-CI for more than 16 years. He says his job is both an honor and a major responsibility.

“When people think of the IRS, they often think of an auditor or collector, but like most federal agencies, we also have a law enforcement side,” Wilson said. “Our job investigates criminal violations of the IRS code and other financial crimes; it’s how we serve our country.”

IRS-CI is the sixth-largest federal law enforcement agency in the United States. Special agents investigate financial crime, emphasizing traditional tax crimes, along with cases involving counterterrorism, public corruption, human trafficking, drugs, and complex money laundering violations. IRS-CI is the only agency with the authority to recommend prosecution for federal tax crimes.

“Financial investigations are typically complex in nature. Sometimes we have a search warrant that lasts all night or we’re in the middle of trial prep that keeps us going through financial records all day,” Wilson said. “In the details is where we uncover crime. All federal crimes deal with money in some aspect and we’re the best at following that money and bringing criminals to justice.”

Dr. Brian Tietje, COB Dean, said the experience is one he hopes prepares Islander students for opportunities in the workforce.

“We strive to provide our students with hands-on learning experiences to help them build their confidence and excitement for the career opportunities that organizations like the IRS-CI offer,” said Tietje. “We are grateful for all of the IRS-CI agents who spent the day on our campus to invest in our students and their success.”