Payton Ferency

Intelligence Analysis Major

Payton Ferency has known she wanted to pursue a career in intelligence analysis since elementary school. Even when she briefly considered a career in microbiology, she knew it wasn’t the right field for her. She was always fascinated by law enforcement and criminology – just like her father, the late Detective Greg Ferency. He was a 30-year veteran of the Terre Haute Police Department and an FBI task officer.

“I was a daddy’s girl. I always wanted to be just like him. I grew up around law enforcement, so this felt like a natural career path,” Ferency says. The Sycamore senior from Terre Haute also acknowledges the support she received from family and friends. “People have supported me, especially in recent years, and I want to be able to give back in a way. I want to make a positive impact in my community and on national security.”

With her family background, Ferency knew she was at a slight advantage during her first year in Indiana State University’s Intelligence Analysis program. Still, she had much to learn firsthand from her professors in the School of Criminology and Security Studies. The academic program was one of the first of its kind in the country and is designed specifically for students seeking careers as intelligence analysts for the U.S. government or military, or in the private sector.

Intelligence analysts examine information from multiple sources to identify threats to the United States and abroad. They collect and analyze intelligence to uncover the intentions of foreign governments and other entities.

Students in the major explore innovative ways to solve complex, real-world problems through research and data analysis related to national security, law enforcement, military, and business intelligence. They explore topics most related to their career interests. For Ferency, this is counterterrorism.

“In my major, I have a worldview perspective on intelligence analysis and the government. I’m not just a number, either. My professors make the major what it is. They care about their students, and it feels like a second family,” Ferency explains.

Payton Ferency, a white female student with shoulder-length brown hair, stands in a computer lab with computer monitors visible behind her. She wears a white short-sleeve sweater and black dress pants.

The Sycamore’s involvement with the School of Criminology and Security Studies extends to an internship that is specifically related to criminology. Ferency studies high-tech crimes and assists other students on their research projects.

“The internship is preparing me even more for my career. It’s given me an extra boost of confidence in my major, and it’s great to work with my professors and peers outside of class time. We cheer for each other’s successes, which shows the kind of community we have,” she says.

Ferency has found other communities on campus, including student organizations like Alpha Omicron Phi sorority, where she serves as the director of philanthropy. She is actively involved in volunteer projects on Indiana State’s campus and throughout the Terre Haute community. Payton Ferency, a white female student with shoulder-length brown hair, sits with her legs crossed on a black bench outside. She wears a white short-sleeve sweater and black dress pants. Fall foliage is visible behind her.

In addition, Ferency represents the School of Criminology and Security Studies as a member of the Student Advisory Board for the College of Arts and Sciences. She helps plan events for the College and voices the opinions shared by her peers. She also works with the Student Government Association to make sure campus events are safe for all students.

“In my student organizations and other campus involvement, I’ve learned that you have to put yourself out there. You have to step outside your comfort zone to meet new people and form connections. You never know where it will lead,” Ferency emphasizes.

Ferency has enjoyed many opportunities to grow on campus and abroad. As a member of Indiana State’s Honors College, she has taken advantage of study-abroad trips (including an upcoming trip to Rome) and alternative breaks led by her professors. For example, one summer she traveled with other Sycamores to London to study British history and British intelligence. A highlight of the trip was attending a production of William Shakespeare’s famous play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, at the historic Globe Theatre.

A collage of Payton Ferency, a white female student with shoulder-length brown hair. She is visiting tourist attractions in London, including the London Bridge and Big Ben.

Payton Ferency visiting iconic sites in London, including Big Ben and the London Bridge.

Then, on an alternative break, she traveled to Puerto Rico to complete more than 20 hours of volunteer service near the city of San Juan. She helped clear trails in the rainforests, cleaned up bench areas, painted a mural, and repaired a building.

“When most people think about Puerto Rico, they talk about the vacation aspect, but I was able to see the daily lifestyles. I saw how Puerto Ricans live every day, and it was an eye-opening experience. The trip taught me so many important life skills, and it made me mentally stronger,” Ferency says.

A collage of Indiana State University students in Puerto Rico. The students wear blue shirts, visit beaches, and wear yellow hard hats as they work.

Payton Ferency and other Indiana State University Sycamores on an alternative break trip to Puerto Rico.

For Ferency and other Sycamores, these experiential learning opportunities enhance their overall experience at Indiana State University. She encourages her peers to explore their options and find opportunities that align with their interests and goals.

“Indiana State gives you what you put into your education here. You get to define your own experience. Be a curious learner and look for opportunities – because they are endless,” she advises.

Ferency’s Sycamore experience has been shaped by her passion for learning about criminology and intelligence analysis, giving back to the community, and finding opportunities to make an impact on campus and abroad. She knew at a young age what she wanted her future to be, and now she’s preparing to live that dream. Because accomplishing lifelong goals begins with BLUE!