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Staff Interview

Leanne Brecklin is an associate professor in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice. She is from Freeport, Illinois. She began teaching at UIS in the fall of 2002.

Where did you go to University?

I went to DePaul University for undergrad and graduate school at UIC.

What was your undergraduate major?

I double majored in sociology and psychology.

What was your concentration for graduate school?

I got my masters in criminal justice and my Ph.D. is also in Criminal justice. It took me 6 years after my undergraduate to obtain my Ph.D.

What inspired you to be in this profession?

I have always been fascinated by criminology--most people are in some fashion. As an undergrad I took some classes that had to do with the sociology of crime and legal studies, and I was given an opportunity to conduct research on police officer assaults (assaults against police officers) in Scotland, so I got to go there as an undergraduate and conduct research. That sparked my interest in knowing that I want to do something with criminology, but I also wanted to do research and be hands on. This inspired me to go on and get my masters in criminal justice. That is when I started studying violence against women, which further sparked my interest in the prevention of violence against women and what inspired me to get my Ph.D.

Did you have any career besides being a professor?

I was a teaching assistant, a research assistant. Then I did a paid internship at the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority where we worked with research.

What inspires you now about your career?

Because my focus is on violence against women, I am driven to advocate for societal change and attitude change. I am a huge advocate for prevention as well, which inspires me to keep going. Even so, being a professor is very inspiring. Each semester is never the same. The students keep me going, not just teaching them but learning from them.

What is something you would tell a prospective student about your program?

We offer a strong liberal arts foundation, and on top of that we offer an overview of criminal justice issues, but also critical analysis of those issues, which I think is very important. We offer amazing internship opportunities ranging from the FBI to the police department, probation offices, and civil service agencies--the Innocence Project as well. Those real-life experiences, combined with the variety of courses we offer, really give students the tools to succeed in the field of criminal justice and beyond. We are also offering a new online program in the fall!

What do you like about UIS?

I like the small classes. With a smaller classroom I feel that the students get to know each other better, and I get to know them better. It stimulates discussion as well. I also like that we have a

variety of modalities that we can teach our courses in, such as remote, online, on-ground, and blended. In our program specifically, we have a lot of diversity within our students in terms of race, gender, and life experience, which improves discussions and allows students to get an enhanced world view of societal issues.

Why is your academic program important to society?

We offer avenues of advocacy for students, like creating a fair criminal justice system. We are giving these students tools to use in the field, which can improve criminal justice in the long term. Particularly in my courses of violence against women, I encourage my students to think on how we can prevent violence against women from happening and what steps can we take to prevent violence?

Do you enjoy teaching?

I do. I enjoy seeing the lightbulb moment in the students especially in controversial topics within criminology.

Why is a liberal arts education important?

Criminal justice fits in liberal arts because we offer a broad view of the system and enhance writing, communication, and critical thinking skills.

Interviewer: McKenna Vereeke

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