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GNBVT Alumni Presentation to Legal & Protective Services

Article by Spencer Jordan

Photography by Kate Collis and Darian Baretto

As a Culinary Arts student at Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School, Mr. Eric J. Caron probably never imagined that he would eventually become a U.S. Diplomat, U.S. Special Agent, and HSBC Middle East Bank Executive conducting and managing covert operations relating to national security, transnational crime, and money laundering. He probably never imagined that he would eventually hold senior positions at Homeland Security and INTERPOL, but as fate would have it, situations in his life formed a path he had never expected to take. Even more ironic is that he would be back at GNBVT years later presenting his first book, Switched On, to Legal and Protective students.

posing with book with mr. obrien laughing

Situations in his life formed a path he had never expected to take

Caron initially believed he would find a career in the Culinary Arts. However, the tragedy that struck him many times throughout his life changed his opinion. His father passed away when he was a Sophomore in high school, and his mother was diagnosed with brain cancer two months after his dad passed. He also lost his twin.  However, Caron didn’t let all of this tragedy break him down; he let it motivate him for more. After graduating from GNBVT, he attended Bristol Community College. Then, he transferred to Northeastern University.

Caron didn’t let all of this tragedy break him down; he let it motivate him for more

presenting tostudents

Media outlets around the world have celebrated Caron’s services. He even received the U.S. Attorney General’s Award for his “endeavors in furthering the interest of U.S. National Security.”

Switched On is about Caron’s early life, his desire to honor his police officer father, and “the art of fighting without fighting.” Throughout the book, Caron uses the metaphor of remaining “switched on” to emphasize the importance of staying alert. The book is also about Caron’s struggle with PTSD and the importance of taking care of one’s mental and emotional health.

Caron uses the metaphor of remaining “switched on” to emphasize the importance of staying alert

presenting tiger image

During Caron’s presentation at GNBVT, he highlighted the main points of his book. He listed his core principles, which included: continuing one’s education, strengthening one’s soul through faith, and his SEE (see, sleep, eat, exercise) philosophy he learned from his father.

talking into microphone

Caron told his audience to close their eyes and imagine themselves in situations where they would have to escape and take note of the decisions they make. Then he told them to reflect on their decisions. He explained that the core of being “switched on” is training your mind like a muscle so it knows how to react.

students with eyes closed in the audience

Caron said “the art of fighting without fighting” is about protecting oneself without acting too hastily. Talking about this to his audience was important on Caron’s part considering he was talking to Legal and Protective students who are on their way to becoming the next generation of law enforcement.

putting hand to volenteer's face

Caron went on to explain that one’s voice is a weapon because it draws attention to an attacker or enemy and interrupts their plan. In fact, he said that the leading technique to solve issues is to talk. If that doesn’t work, one should try to distract the attacker or enemy. Attacking back is a last resort and should be a swift strike to the nose. After that, one should escape as quickly as possible.

with volenteer smiling

Caron then listed the signs that someone is about to attack, which included the person constantly looking around. Then he said that people should never let anyone in their personal space because space is their friend.

demonstrating holding hand out

Caron explained that having knowledge of basic self-defense techniques is important because there is no makeup test after being attacked. He gave his audience three important pieces of advice: be safe, be smart, and be switched on. He ended his presentation by telling his audience how fortunate they are to have the Legal and Protective program that teaches them the skills they need before becoming the future of law enforcement.

students clapping in audience

Today, Caron is an Adjunct Professor at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy and a WHDH News 7 Boston terrorism analyst.