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Deputy FBI Director, NMSU alumnus visits campus to talk to criminal justice students

  • By Minerva Baumann
  • 575-646-7566
  • Nov 04, 2019
man and student shaking hands
man talking

David Bowdich knew exactly what he wanted to do when he studied criminal justice at New Mexico State University back in the early 1990s. Bowdich spent the morning on campus sharing his experiences and lessons learned from his start as an Albuquerque police officer to his career climb through the ranks of the FBI where he currently serves as the deputy director and oversees all FBI domestic and international investigative and intelligence activities.

In a whirlwind one-day visit, Bowdich met with a group of faculty and graduate students from the Department of Criminal Justice in the College of Arts and Sciences. He also met with Joseph Linares and Alberto Renteria, senior criminal justice majors seeking career advice at the mentoring center, before giving a talk to more than 120 criminal justice students, faculty and local law enforcement.

“Part of leadership is building teams,” Bowdich said to a crowd in the Health and Social Services Auditorium. “I found people who are smarter than me, better than me. You don’t always have to have all the answers. You have to have people around you who can help you find the right answers.”

Bowdich graduated from NMSU in 1991 with a Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice. Shortly thereafter, he joined the Albuquerque Police Department and from 1991 to 1995 he patrolled the streets of his hometown, as his father did. Joe Bowdich was an Albuquerque police officer and later Sheriff of Bernalillo County. Bowdich’s grandfather was deputy chief of the Albuquerque Fire Department.

In 1995, Bowdich began his career with the FBI in the San Diego Field Office. In 2003, Bowdich was promoted to FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C., where he served in the Criminal Investigative Division for one year and the Director's Office for one year. Bowdich returned to San Diego for almost four years before being promoted to serve as the assistant special agent in charge. From 2012 to 2014, Bowdich served in the Los Angeles Field Office, first as special agent in charge of the Counterterrorism Division, then as assistant director in charge. In 2016 he was appointed to the position of associate deputy director of the FBI, and again promoted in 2018 to deputy director.

NMSU Chancellor Dan Arvizu welcomed Bowdich back to campus and introduced his speech, pointing to Bowdich’s accomplishments as a result of hard work and a great college education.

“We have Aggies in places all around the country,” Arvizu said. “I think that promotes the value of the education that they receive here. It demonstrates the quality of people who have gone to school here at New Mexico State University.”

Bowdich talked to students about applying for jobs with the FBI and answered questions about everything from the Las Cruces Public Schools computer hack to how working in the FBI can affect families, including how the organization supports the families of agents. He responded to one student’s question about the length of the process to get hired by stating that it took him a year.

Bowdich also discussed the organization’s progress in diversity. “We’re trying to better mirror our communities. We recognize the need and I’m seeing great progress on the hiring side. In the senior rank side we still have some work to do, but it’s a process that has to happen.”

One important lesson Bowdich learned along the way is the value of teamwork.

“You have to focus on being part of the team,” Bowdich said. “You have to make decisions in a selfless manner. You’ll find there are plenty of people who will make the best decisions for themselves. But you have to focus on being part of the team, on what’s best for the organization. That’s so important.”

As the session was wrapping up, a final question was asked about whether Bowdich felt insecure about not attending an Ivy League school.

“There is not one of those folks who is better than anyone sitting in this room,” Bowdich said. “There are some that have had exposure to other things that you might not have, but recognize that you’ve got skills. Whatever you choose to do, own it.”

NMSU live streamed Bowdich’s talk on Facebook and the recording is available on the NMSUnews Facebook page.