During her years at Temple, Toni Leja’ Dixon, KLN ’18, drew on her life experiences and the knowledge she obtained as a journalism major to concentrate on criminal justice issues such as mass incarceration, police brutality and human trafficking. Now, she’s climbing the ranks at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Going for it
In 2016, Dixon’s god brother, Terrence Sterling, was fatally shot by a Washington, D.C. police officer while on his way home after a bachelor party/fundraiser. The event inspired Dixon to focus on criminal justice reform as part of her senior capstone project, motivating her to research and interview protestors who participated in various marches to end gun violence.
During her junior year, a former neighbor and retired FBI specialist suggested that Dixon apply for a job at his former employer. Unable to resist this unique opportunity, she decided to take a chance.
After more than a year of intensive interviews, background investigations and security checks, the FBI offered Dixon a position in early 2019. Her unit chief stated she was excited to have someone with a journalism degree in the department.
“When I applied for this job with the FBI, I didn’t think I would get it,” said Dixon, who is currently a management and program analyst. “But I did. Why did I ever think otherwise?”
Reporting for duty
When Dixon reported to the FBI Headquarters in Washington for her first day on the job, she was only 22 years old, making her the youngest analyst in the FBI’s finance and facilities division. Dixon continually reminds herself to be confident—something that her parents instilled in her from an early age. She encourages other young alumni to do the same.
“Don’t doubt yourself,” Dixon said. “Believe in yourself and keep praying on it. If it’s meant for you, it will be for you.”
She attributes her experiences at Temple for her preparedness as she takes on a range of responsibilities at the FBI. “Temple made me well-rounded. I’m Temple Made,” Dixon said.
Agent of change
Today, Dixon tries to keep those around her informed about the criminal justice system in the U.S. Eventually, she wants to be part of future change by moving up the ladder at the FBI or taking a different path unbeknownst to her right now.
“I’m going to make a difference,” she said.
—By Ashley Nguyen, KLN ’12, and Kierstyn Smith