“Don’t let anyone treat you like you’re a yellow Starburst. You’re a pink Starburst,” reads a sign on EmmaLeigh Kirchner’s desk.
Kirchner is Mercyhurst’s newest assistant professor of criminal justice and is excited to connect with students.
“I’m not scary, even though I teach scary classes,” Kirchner said.
Kirchner has been involved with the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation studying heavy topics such as alcoholism and AIDS. She stumbled upon her love for teaching when she was required to do so in an undergraduate class.
“I love teaching, and I guess my personality works better with people rather than data,” Kirchner said with a big smile.
Kirchner is currently focusing her research on parenting and how it affects delinquency. She thinks problems with juvenile delinquency can be solved by looking at parenting and is excited to bring her research to the Erie area. Kirchner also wants to bring her interests to Mercyhurst.
“I did a lot of work with the Pennsylvania Prison Society, who wants prison reform and prison rights. I would love to start a student chapter at Mercyhurst, and get more students involved with this idea that prisoners are normal people, they’re just people who have made a bad decision,” Kirchner said.
Kirchner believes a student chapter at a local Erie facility could spearhead reading programs where students would help prisoners record bedtime stories for their kids and organize clothing drives for people who are in the process of integrating back into society after being incarcerated.
“I think it fits well with the Mercy Mission,” Kirchner said.
She also wants to be a resource for all students. Her main tip for students is to read the syllabus of every class.
“Too many students don’t do that and most of your questions can be answered with the syllabus.” said Kirchner.
“And don’t complain so uch. It’s not as serious as students make things out to be. It’s just not that serious.”
As a whole, Kirchner believes her cheery disposition fits right into Mercyhurst.
“I can’t get over how nice people are and this sense of the community that exists. I had heard about it, and it really exists. It’s real, and the relationships you can have with your students is really nice,” Kirchner said.