Alumni Spotlight - Billy “BJ” Wrights ’99/M’16

Jun 18, 2018 11:00 AM

eNews Alumni Spotlight highlights alumni who give back to Frostburg in some way – time, talent, treasure or any combination. This edition of eNews will feature federal law enforcement officer Billy “BJ” Wrights ’99/M’16 (and current doctoral student).

Current City: Cumberland, Md.

Current Occupation: Federal law enforcement officer/drug treatment specialist with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, U.S. Department of Justice. Also serve as a recruitment outreach program coordinator within the agency’s Affirmative Employment Program. 

Why do you love FSU?

I love FSU because the University welcomed me with open arms on various occasions. As an undergraduate, I felt unprepared for college. FSU, as a whole, made me feel welcomed and appreciated. As an undergraduate student, I served as an infantry reconnaissance scout with the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves. FSU welcomed me as a military veteran and supported my military service and my transitioning needs as a student veteran. As a graduate and doctoral student, FSU continued to welcome me as a non-traditional student, as well as a student veteran receiving veterans education benefits. I have always felt appreciated and welcomed at FSU.

Why do you give back (time, talent and/or treasure) to FSU?

I give back to FSU because I believe in continuing education, and I believe FSU is a leader within higher education. Each year, FSU continues to amaze me with new programs, opportunities and resources for students.  

What do you do for fun?

For fun, I spend time with my family and participate in a variety of community service and fraternal activities. Currently, I am a cheer dad. My daughter, Aisa, is a varsity cheerleader at Allegany High School. I have a beautiful wife, Jennifer, of 14 years, and a 20-year-old son, Alex. My daughter and I attend a mission trip to the Ihanktonwan Lakota Sioux Reservation each summer, where we teach classes to disadvantaged Native American youth. I also enjoy the fraternal brotherhood of Freemasonry and serve as lodge secretary of East Gate Lodge No. 216, A.F & A.M., and assistant director of Works with the Cumberland Scottish Rite. I also enjoy teaching self-defense and being a lifelong martial artist. 

Tell us about a class or activity at FSU that has had a surprising effect on your life.

The activity that had a surprising effect on me was serving as a VA work-study student with FSU’s Veterans Services from 1995-1999. I gained a greater understanding of veterans educational benefits and opportunities, and I was afforded the great opportunity to work with military veterans, student veterans and veterans who were interested in utilizing their veterans educational benefits.

What is your favorite memory of your time as a Frostburg student?

My favorite memory as an FSU student would be hanging out with my college roommate, Greg Hughes. We were roommates in Frederick Hall for three years and rarely, if ever, had a disagreement. While he played Bobcat football, I worked part-time jobs and served as president of the FSU Martial Arts Club. We also joined different fraternities. Greg joined Phi Kappa Tau and I joined Delta Beta Chi. We still keep in contact today and get together often.

What is a cause dear to your heart?

A cause dear to my heart is supporting our military veterans, especially student veterans. My father, grandfather and uncle were all Army veterans. Many of my friends and in-laws are also veterans of the Navy, Army, Marines, Air Force or Coast Guard. Inspired by these men and women, I joined the Marine Corps in 1995 to serve and protect my country. Many service men and women return home with transitioning needs and service-connected disabilities. I feel it is our duty to honor and care for our military veterans, especially those in need of transitional supports and health care needs.

Tell us about a person or persons from FSU who had an impact on your life.

There are several individuals who had a tremendous impact on me while a student at FSU. Pat Deasy, retired FSU counselor and director of Veterans Services, supported me as an undergraduate student, role-modeled professional behaviors and took the time to teach me about veterans educational benefits and services available to student veterans. Dr. William Aumiller ’68, Educational Professions Department, served as my graduate advisor and supported me throughout my graduate studies. I would like to thank Danielle Dabrowski, director of Veterans Services; Student Veterans of America; and the VA work-study students for their continued support and encouragement. I have also been greatly impacted by the doctoral students of cohort 2016 and the professors within the FSU’s Ed.D. program.

Favorite comfort food?

My favorite comfort food is a peanut butter and apple butter sandwich on Italian bread, and sometimes General Tso’s chicken.

Favorite vacation spot?

My favorite vacation spot is the beach, any beach where I can spend time with family and friends.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Professionally, I would like to pursue executive service within the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs or the U.S. Department of Education. My goal is to complete the Ed.D. program at FSU and apply for the Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) program in 2019.