No day is ever the same for Briana Woodard ’17. As an investigative specialist for the Department Of Justice (DOJ) Office of Inspector General (OIG), she and her colleagues are responsible for deterring fraud, waste, and abuse by DOJ employees while also supporting law enforcement. Whether it’s an internal investigation or a computer or cell phone involved in a case Woodard is involved.
“I work in the cyber unit on the operation side so I help agents get to where they’re going, I help with purchasing and analytical work, too,” she said. "Every day is a new experience. We seek administrative, civil, and criminal remedies for misconduct committed by DOJ employees.”
Her team won an OIG Award in May 2019 and are about to receive a second award this October for some of their forensic work on the same investigation.
“My position is never routine and I always knew when I was younger I never wanted a job where I did the same thing every day,” she said. “What I really like about being a government employee in general is that we’re working for a bigger purpose. That’s the reason why I love it.”
Although the Sociology major says she’s always had an interest in crime and law enforcement and credits her TLU education for guiding her into the field.
“That wasn’t my major when I first came to TLU, but I got exposure to lots of areas and realized I wanted to work in some type of law,” she said. “I decided to pursue Sociology with a focus in criminal justice and psychology. Having that background made me more open to other things. I think sometimes people think you can only go into social work with this major, but it really opens you up to so many subjects. You learn how to understand people and it even made me more willing to explore areas I wasn’t even thinking about going toward.”
With the guidance and influence of Political Science Department Chair Professor Germaine Walsh, Woodard entered a master’s program Justice Law and Criminology at American University in Washington, DC where she focused on justice and privacy rights. In January 2018, she began her internship with the DOJ OIG and after graduating in May of 2019, the internship converted into a full-time position.
“I knew TLU had a connection with American and that they offered a really great program,” she said. “When you’re trying to do something with law, you pretty much have to have a DC experience in your life.”
Moving to DC was a natural transition for Woodard who was used to moving around having grown up in a military family before calling Lawton, Oklahoma home in high school. Woodard said she was drawn to TLU after an internet search led her to the university’s website.
“What really drew me in was an admissions visit event called Top Prospect Day,” she said. “We decided to drive down and attend. I really liked the atmosphere on campus. Sometimes, you walk past people and they don’t talk to you. At TLU, everyone spoke to me and said hello. I even got to meet some current students and faculty. The smaller class sizes and one-on-one attention from professors at TLU was so important. Everyone really takes the time to help students have a great experience.”