Career day at girls school focuses on Red Cross and law enforcement

4 professional women address St. Paul's students

November 29, 2001|By Joan Jacobson | Joan Jacobson,SUN STAFF

You could tell it wasn't a typical "career day" at St. Paul's School for Girls when a student asked the four visiting women if they were wearing guns - and three of them said yes.

More than 200 girls at the private school in Brooklandville heard how a lawyer from a small town in California became head of the FBI's Baltimore office and how a former airline employee became a firearms instructor and spokeswoman for the Baltimore County police.

They heard from a veteran Baltimore police detective about the dangers - and dirt - she encountered while working undercover buying drugs.

Speakers at St. Paul's "Women in the Professions" assembly yesterday were Lynne Hunt, FBI special agent; Cpl. Vickie Warehime, public information officer for the county police; Detective Dawn Anderson of the city police; and Linnea Anderson, a former television reporter who is director of public relations for the American Red Cross's Central Maryland Chapter - and the only one who wasn't wearing a gun.

Each woman has played a role in the response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, but the women offered few details of those activities and instead focused on their jobs.

Anderson, a 22-year veteran of the city police, told the students she had no interest in becoming a police officer until she learned that the department was offering "walk-in testing."

"The next thing you know, I have a badge and a gun and I'm out on the streets of Baltimore," said Anderson, who works in the city's criminal intelligence section.

Students also learned that the life of an FBI agent is not quite the same as the Hollywood portrayal.

Hunt told the students about getting her start more than two decades ago, when few women were FBI agents.

Her training at Quantico, Va., included boxing while wearing a huge piece of headgear - designed for a man - that spun around her head when she was hit, she said.

Her first job was in an FBI field office in Chicago, where she was one of four women on a staff of 350 agents.

"I think they knew my underwear size when I showed up. We were an oddity," Hunt said. "We're not an oddity anymore. We're an integral part of the work force."

Though she told funny anecdotes about working at the FBI, Hunt turned serious when she spoke briefly about the agency's efforts since the terrorist attacks.

"This is why we trained, why we do what we do - to work on an investigation like this. We get to do something about it," she said.

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