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Aug 31, 2017 4:36 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

East Hampton Teenager, A Southampton Town Police Explorer, Visits CIA, Snapchat

Sep 3, 2017 12:08 PM

Not every 18-year-old gets to experience her dream job in person. East Hampton resident Ashley Simons has now done that twice. Ms. Simons, who wants to work in cyber security after she graduates from Queens College, was one of only 18 students selected out of 600 applicants to tour the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Virginia on August 11. During the trip, she also attended a special lecture by CIA agents and visited the agency’s museum—which is not open to the public.

To be considered for the opportunity, Ms. Simons had to write an essay, so she decided to detail her time working with the Southampton Town Police Department through the Law Enforcement Career Exploring program—a national program that provides educational training for young adults interested in law enforcement.

“By doing it, I learned that I really do love law enforcement and I really want a career out of it,” Ms. Simons said of the program. “I enjoyed the hands-on experience.”

Ms. Simons is soft-spoken and reserved, and while she isn’t necessarily loquacious when speaking about her attraction to a career in law enforcement, her resume speaks for itself.

In addition to her recent opportunity to visit one of the country's most secretive locations, last year, Ms. Simons won a contest for a private tour of Snapchat Inc., the popular technology and social media company.

She is one of the original members of the Southampton Town Police Explorers, a program which began locally in 2014. In the youth academy, participants learn leadership, respect for police officers, marksmanship and law enforcement protocols, among other skills, according to the department’s website.

Ms. Simons worked her way up in the academy—which mimics actual police academy training—first to the rank of sergeant and, eventually, to lieutenant.

According to a prepared statement from Southampton Police Lieutenant Susan Ralph, Ms. Simons continues to be a leader in the program. “During her initial interview to enter the program, she showed the interview panel what an extraordinary young woman she is,” Lt. Ralph said.

Although Ms. Simons just moved to Queens, and this week started her first college classes, Ms. Simons said she will remain in the Southampton police program, and will travel back to attend the bi-monthly meetings.

Throughout her three years so far in the program, Ashley said she managed a full academic and sport schedule playing tennis and softball at East Hampton High School, in addition to participating in the robotics club and volunteering at her local library and at church.

In her college career, Ms. Simons wants to focus on computer science to fulfill her dream of working in cyber security, and has already demonstrated impressive technical skills at a young age. Last year, Ms. Simons was selected out of 10,000 applicants as the winner of a coding contest from Snapchat.

For the contest, she designed and coded a special photo filter for the company, which sports an international theme with different languages creating a border. In December, Snapchat flew her out from New York to its headquarters in Venice, California, and Snapchat’s manager of global diversity initiatives, Jarvis Sam, gave her a private tour of the facility and the new technology that they were developing—including their camera-equipped sunglasses, called Spectacles.

“It was amazing,” Ms. Simons said, seemingly at a loss for words when asked to describe the experience.

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