Alumni Issue: From fashion to the Central Intelligence Agency

Friday, October 7th, 2016 at 12:25 PM

The fashion industry is a trillion dollar, global one, consisting of a variety of creative aspects such as design, apparel, textile, modeling, marketing and management.

Many aspire to land a career in this industry to display their creativity.

Kimberly Ray, a 1989 Edinboro graduate with a bachelor’s degree in interior design, had the qualifications, but ended up with a lifelong career in something very, very different. Ray designs special tactics and forces for the national security as a member of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Growing up in Washington D.C.,  Ray, like many others all over the world, had a huge passion for design. She paired that with a desire to obtain a college education, a desire fueled by both of her parents not being able to attend due to lack of financing and in order to support the livelihood of their four children living in the inner city.

“Once I was able to get out of that house, I did,” Ray said.

In 1985, Ray enrolled at Edinboro University on an academic scholarship and majored in interior design. “When I was a little girl, I would see my mother trying to decorate the best way she could with the very little we had and that instantly made me interested in designing everything from clothes to home decorations,” Ray said. “I think making things comfortable and lively all stem from decorating and designing.”

After enrolling at Edinboro, she began to excel. Ray instantly became interested in various organizations, including the art club, home economics, the Women’s Alliance and the campus faith ministry. She explained her involvement in that last organization helped her a lot. “Without God, I am nothing,” she said.

“All of my professors loved me. I made the dean’s list within my first two semesters. I was determined to not only go to college, but to also do very well in college just to make my family proud and to also succeed in something I’ve always had an interest in,” she said. “I didn’t know how much my life would change after I graduated.”

Ray graduated in December of 1989.

“Seeing the smiles on my family’s faces was priceless. They were proud of me and I was proud of myself as well. Edinboro definitely helped me become more responsible, mentally and physically, for the real world, which I am very thankful for to say the least,” Ray said.  After she returned home from graduation, her life took an interesting turn.  

“Two summers after I graduated, I saw a commercial on television that was offering kickboxing classes in my area,” she said. “I’ve always been interested in combat, especially since I’m really small, so I immediately signed up and started taking evening classes.”
After three months of interning and taking kickboxing classes, Ray moved up to the highest level in her kickboxing class and obtained the highest achieving medals and awards for her techniques. That’s when her kickboxing instructor recommended that she should seek a career in law enforcement with the federal government.

“At first, I was not interested at all,” Ray said. “I had a degree in interior design. What on earth would I do in law enforcement?”
Ray’s passion for design instantly became a passion for designing techniques and teaching analytical skills for the CIA.  
“This transition literally happened beyond my control. I was taking kickboxing classes one day, then the next I was enrolling in the police academy,” she said.

Ray enrolled in the Metropolitan Police Academy in Washington D.C. and later in 1996 landed a job as an inspector general of workers’ compensation.

“The training was intense. There were days where I wanted to give up, but the more intense the training got; the more I was determined to finish it,” Ray said. “I knew God had my back.”

Ray landed the job with the CIA in 1996 where she worked for the Office of the Workers Compensation Fraud Inspector’s General. They would investigate the possible fraud committed by employees, attorneys, employers, health care providers, insurance carriers and brokers.
“I’ve been working as an inspector general since 1996 and I’ve only been involved in four raids and they all weren’t extreme; thank God because the extreme cases can be very dangerous for the suspect and the inspectors,” she said. “I never had to pull out my gun, but there were definite instances where I sure had my hand on it.”

Although Ray was not able to fully release details on the specific suspects, she did explain how the procedures usually takes place, which can consist of either mild compliance from the suspects or extreme force and danger. Ray said her job does not necessarily have the exact depiction the media portrays; it all depends on the individual and case.
Although Ray is far away from the career that she initially anticipated when she was younger, she is satisfied in the position that she is in.

“Working for the CIA is probably the best job I ever had. I definitely believe God placed me here for a reason,” she said.

“I get to work with some of the best people in the country. I travel constantly and I get to serve justice within this country and different communities, which is the best feeling ever.”

She continued, “I don’t regret the degree I received because nonetheless it has helped me utilize my creativity in my new profession.”

Milan Newson is a contributing writer to EdinboroNow.

Tags: alumni issue

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