Excitement and enthusiasm are the only requirements for first-year criminal justice students who wish to join their major’s new learning community—The Criminal Justice League. Capes and superpowers are optional.
The Criminal Justice League, which launches this fall, comprises a group of about 35 first-year students who share an interest in criminal justice. Together, they learn about the criminal justice major through common classes, social events, field trips and guest speakers.
“A learning community is a great way to bring people together around a common interest, to build connections right from the start,” said Leana Bouffard, chair of the Department of Sociology. “This learning community introduces students to the criminal justice major, the faculty who teach their classes and conduct ground-breaking research, and a variety of careers.”
The learning community is led by Jenny Macken, academic adviser in sociology, and three peer mentors: Jae Fehrle (sophomore, criminal justice); Lane Kunzie (junior, criminal justice, psychology and Spanish); and Anna Shull (sophomore, criminal justice). Peer mentors help guide new students through the unfamiliar territory of college life, and offer advice on everything from which classes to take to the best cup of coffee on campus.
“College can be hard, so having a person to rely on and ask questions when in need is necessary, especially when you are struggling in a class,” Kunzie said. “College isn’t meant to be done alone and that’s why I’m here. I want to help anyone I can.”
Learning community students meet weekly with peer mentors and attend at least two classes with the group, including Introduction to the U.S. Criminal Justice System (CJ 240) and Critical Thinking and Communications (ENGL 150). Students who need tips on how to navigate through the coursework are encouraged to talk with a peer mentor.
“I decided to become a peer mentor because my peer mentors were very helpful my freshman year, and I’d like to do the same for others,” Fehrle said. “The Criminal Justice League learning community will give many advantages to students. They will meet people within their major, get help with classes and much more.”