Learning from the best: Retired FBI special agent honors Homeland Security and Public Safety students

Learning from the best: Retired FBI special agent honors Homeland Security and Public Safety students

Homeland Security and Public Safety Department Chair Louis Caprino, right

June 02, 2021

June 2, 2021

VINCENNES, Ind. – Each year Vincennes University Homeland Security and Public Safety (HSPS) Department Chair Louis Caprino presents Top Gun awards to the top students in the bachelor’s degree program for distinguishing themselves in the classroom. Students highly covet the awards. In the past, students went as far as to hang out outside Caprino’s office to wait for him to post their grades.

The awards are even more special because Caprino, a decorated, retired FBI special agent presents them.

"It gives them something a little bit extra to strive for,” Caprino said. “If you get an ‘A’, you should feel pretty good about getting an ‘A’. But if you know you got an ‘A’ and you are the top in your class, you tell your parents, you tell your friends, and you’re proud, and that’s what this is all about.”

Recipients of Top Gun Awards achieve the highest grade in their HSPS courses.

“Being a Top Gun recipient is a huge honor in our nationally recognized, award-winning program,” HSPS major Precious Townsend said. “It is a chance to display our hard work, which is ultimately driven by our professors.”

The real-world experience of faculty members like Caprino sets VU apart from other universities. 

Caprino’s FBI assignments included service in Los Angeles where he was in charge of the second-largest joint terrorism task force in the bureau and all of the special mission teams, including the evidence response team, the weapons of mass destruction operations unit, and the SWAT team. His assignments also included stints in New York, Northwest Indiana, overseas, and FBI headquarters in Washington D.C. During his 29-year career with the bureau, Caprino worked on high-profile cases and was honored by top national officials, including former Attorney General Janet Reno. He also served as the FBI’s Legal Attache and was accredited to the U.S. Embassies in Canberra, Australia; Wellington, New Zealand; Suva, Fiji; and Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.

The outstanding academic performances of HSPS students contribute to the prestige of the program, which is offered both as a four-year degree at the Vincennes Campus and through the University’s well-recognized online program. VU’s Homeland Security and Public Safety program is ranked as the best bachelor degree program in the nation by Intelligent.com. VU also has been identified as one of the best value colleges for homeland security online degrees and most affordable homeland security degree programs.

"To be a Top Gun Award winner means that discipline and hard work pays off," HSPS major Ashley Davis. "For me, education isn't about being the best but rather about being better than you were the day before. It’s about being the best version of yourself, not better than someone else because we all have a different capability of best. Being awarded Top Gun really solidifies that we did our absolute best and that we have to keep moving forward in our education in order to grow more and achieve our long-term goals.”

Students in VU’s Homeland Security and Public Safety bachelor’s degree program learn in an innovative environment about topics such as homeland security, terrorism in all forms, crisis and emergency management, intelligence, infrastructure, loss prevention, and public safety. There are many careers to be explored within this rapidly expanding field such as law enforcement; public health; information analysis; infrastructure protection; chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear countermeasures; border and transportation security; emergency preparedness and response in addition to other exciting and rewarding careers.

Louis Caprino and others at dedication.

Louis Caprino, right

The Spring 2021 Top Gun Award recipients include:

Tyler Arnold, (Bloomington), Critical Infrastructure and Key Asset Protection, HSPS-380. He is interested in pursuing a career with the U.S. Border Patrol, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement or a position at Crane Naval Base. 

Justin Baker, (Bloomfield), Research Methods, HSPS-410. Baker's career goals include becoming a federal wildlife officer with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or a county emergency manager.

Emily Breeding, (English), Capstone Experience, HSPS-490. Breeding has aspirations of becoming an emergency management agency director in a Southern Indiana county.

Kory Carter, (Akron, Ohio), Intelligence and Homeland Security, HSPS-370 and Technology and Homeland Security, HSPS-350. Carter is pursuing a career with the Federal Aviation Administration as an air traffic controller. 

Ashley Davis, (New Albany), Responding to Terrorism Incidents, EMAP-205. Davis hopes to work for the FBI or U.S. Department of State Diplomatic Security Service. She is also considering becoming an officer in the U.S. Armed Forces. 

Bradley Davis, (Fort Washington, Maryland), Crisis and Disaster Issues, HSPS-420. Davis is currently in the U.S. Navy; Submarine Ordnance Limited Duty Officer at Naval Undersea Warfare Center Newport. After he retires from the Navy, his future career aspirations are to seek employment with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security or the Walt Disney Company. 

Waylan Lewis, (Bowling Green), Hazardous Materials and Basic Emergency Response, HSPS-222 (Online). Lewis aspires to become a fire marshal. 

Kayla McClure, (Shelbyville), Critical Infrastructure and Key Asset Protection, HSPS-380. McClure hopes to pursue a career in emergency management or in-flight medicine. 

Jacob Metzler, (Elkhart), Crisis and Disaster Issues, HSPS-420. Metzler has his career sights set on becoming an Indiana conservation officer or a U.S. park ranger. 

Jordan Thornton, (Bremen), Introduction to Terrorism, HSPS-415. Thornton hopes to pursue a career as an Indiana conservation officer or a disaster program specialist or work as part of a FEMA disaster response team. 

Precious Townsend, (Kokomo), Hazardous Materials and Basic Emergency Response, HSPS-222. Townsend hopes to pursue a career with the FBI. 

Most Improved Award winner:

Jacob Cox, (Martinsville), Most Improved Award. Cox wants to work for FEMA or in one of Indiana's 92 emergency management agencies.