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Bedford professors teach criminology at LC

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    Criminology is rapidly becoming one of the most popular majors at Lynchburg College, and two of the four professors teaching it live in the Thaxton area.

    Kim McCabe, dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences and a graduate of Liberty High School who lives in Thaxton, launched the criminology major in 2008 with nine students. This fall 101 students are majoring in criminology.
    While TV programs like “CSI” may pique student interest, only about 30 percent of their majors want to be in law enforcement. Many are interested in helping victims and people in need.
    “The major requires an additional semester of language and it emphasizes the quantitative analysis of data,” McCabe said. “Not everyone can work in these fields. And they’ve got to be model citizens.”
    Sharon Foreman-Kready, assistant professor of human services, also lives in the Thaxton area. She teaches human services, a new minor this fall, and Foreman-Kready is trying to spread the word about what that entails. Many people confuse it with human resources, but human services is about social justice and social warfare and often deals with offenders and victims, just as criminology does.
    Foreman-Kready also wants to debunk the perception that people in human services are doomed to low-salary jobs. “You can make a very good living,” she said.
    LC has worked with members of the Bedford County Sheriff’s Department to bring criminology alive in the classroom. Last year, an investigator with the Internet Crimes Task Force in Bedford County showed students in Dan Murphy’s “victimology” class in real time how he chats with offenders, usually, men looking for children to molest.
    Murphy, instructor of criminology and a former police officer, said the variety of career options make criminology attractive to many students. The victimology class is particularly popular. “It fills to the brim every time,” he said.
    Mallory Sharman ’16, a junior from Forest, said she chose her major because she has known since high school that she wanted to become a criminal defense lawyer. “The criminology program at Lynchburg College allows me to study crime and criminals with professors who have firsthand experience with the material they teach,” Mallory said. “I know this major will help me with my future career path of becoming a criminal defense lawyer.”
    This fall the department also welcomes Chad Starks, a former bail bondsman, to the criminology faculty. Starks brings a courts and corrections perspective to the program that has been lacking, according to McCabe.  
    “I’m going to bring an extra lens,” Starks said. “I want to debunk myths of who the criminals are.”
    Starks has already made connections with a National Inside Out program at the nearby Rustburg prison, which he hopes to take students to.
    An integral part of the criminology major is a requirement to have an internship, independent study or study abroad. This semester, over 30 students are doing agency reviews on such topics as employee turnover and jail recidivism to determine what programs are effective.
    “We want people to understand criminology, to know they can make a difference in today’s society,” McCabe said.