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UNF senior leans into her passion as the adventure begins

Cassie Muse Headshot - photo credit to FBI JacksonvilleMany people go through life thinking one thing and doing another. Cassandra “Cassie” Muse says she can relate.  

The 21-year-old Orlando, Florida native set to graduate from the University of North Florida in December with a finance degree, was planning to study international business and pre-law, but then decided to run for vice president of finance of her sorority and changed her major to finance.   

“When I ran for VP of finance for alpha delta pi, I had no previous experience managing a budget, let alone a $100,000 budget,” said Muse. “I drew upon what I was learning in some of my classes to help me out, but math doesn’t come easy to me. It challenges and pushes me to focus – that’s what I like.” 

Muse challenged herself even further, when she took on several other positions within her sorority including chapter president, president of the Panhellenic Council and became a member of Order of Omega – a Greek honors society that focuses on academics, community service and leadership. “I found what I love and dug deeper,” Muse said.   

And deeper she went. That confidence bolstered Muse to apply for an internship she secured with the FBI in summer 2022 – and one she hopes to continue working fulltime after graduation.    

“Although the application process and all the steps in between were a lesson in perseverance and patience, it was so worth it,” Muse said.  

Cassie Muse being sworn in with other interns - photo credit to FBI JacksonvilleAssigned to the Public Corruption and Civil Rights squad, Muse said her finance degree and her leadership roles in her extracurricular activities proved to be a plus with her work at the FBI.   

“A lot of crimes have a financial aspect to them,” explained Muse. “Having a background in finance can give a different perspective when looking at information we’re working on. The bureau has people working in all backgrounds and studies which is helpful when trying to look at things from various viewpoints.” 

Ronald Heymann, a UNF adjunct instructor of finance in the Coggin College of Business and one of Muse’s instructors, agrees. 

“Having a background in finance and financial planning helps an investigator get to the root of most crime – follow the money,” said Heymann. “From Sam Bankman-Fried to Hunter Biden, the headlines are loaded with intrigue, most of which ties back to complex investment and business schemes. I tell my students, there are always clues to follow. You don’t always need a badge and a gun to be the ‘good guy.’ A finance grad like Cassie, with a clear conscience and a calculator can be equally effective.”  

Muse said it’s been an honor working for the FBI. “There’s a lot of balancing responsibilities, assignments and deadlines that are challenging, but it’s rewarding and impactful work,” Muse said.  I’ve learned so much about leadership and organization through this internship.”  

Kendra Gress, supervisory special agent with the FBI and Muse’s direct supervisor, said the FBI seeks out interns like Muse, with diverse backgrounds and experiences. 

“A student’s major matters, but diversity matters, too,” said Gress. “Cassie is the type of student intern we seek out. She embodies the FBI’s core values, she’s a team player, a leader with great communication skills and she’s eager to learn. Cassie has been an indispensable part of my team and it’s been a delight to see her grow these past two years.” 

Cassie Muse getting out of a military Jeep - photo credit to FBI JacksonvilleGress said Muse gained experience in almost every aspect of the squad from scanning discovery, filing and shredding to writing synopsizes and helping agents get ready for grand jury and trials.  

“These are all tasks that we’re responsible for even when Cassie is not working. We’ve been blessed having her with us.”  

Muse was one of a handful of students selected to give their perspective about their educational experiences at UNF to the Board of Trustees at their meeting in October. 

“That was a great experience and one that helped hone my public speaking skills,” Muse said.   

Looking back at her years at UNF, Muse recalled the reason why she chose UNF in the first place.  

“I knew I wanted a different experience from my peers in high school who wanted to go to bigger schools,” said Muse. “Small classes were important to me as well as having the opportunity to be seen and heard by my professors. When I toured UNF for the first time, I knew this was the university for me. The campus is beautiful, and Jacksonville has so many opportunities to offer.”  

While it was American economist and author Peter Drucker that said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it,” Cassie Muse is certainly living it.