For Moraine Valley Community College alumna Dr. Christy Powers, her passion for education began when she saw her mother, Angeline Lee, teach at the college.
“I sat in the back of the room and could see the energy not only from my mom but from the students,” said Powers. “I knew she was making a difference in their lives. It was something special.”
Powers didn’t begin her education at Moraine Valley. She started her college career at a four-year university, but enrolled at Moraine Valley after just one semester away. She wanted to capture some of the magic she witnessed between her mom and her students for herself.
And, it didn’t take Powers long to rediscover what was so special about Moraine Valley.
“The professors were amazing; the opportunities for students were plentiful; and it was an environment where I could thrive,” she said.
And thrived she did.
Powers made the most of her Moraine Valley experience—playing softball, serving as the manager of the men’s soccer team, as well as working in the college’s public safety office. While she has fond memories of being involved in extracurricular activities, it’s what she learned in the classroom that shaped her the most.
“I still remember the candid views my world religions professor taught us—he shared with us so much knowledge and taught us to think,” said Powers. “Looking back, it was those required courses that gave me the foundation for a well-rounded education.”
Powers recalls the time when John Burian, professor of criminal justice, took her class on a field trip to the women’s correctional facility in downtown Chicago.
“It was a raw experience, and one I will never forget,” said Powers. “This was real-world learning beyond the classroom.”
After earning an A.A. in criminal justice from Moraine Valley in 1995, Powers transferred to the University of St. Francis where she earned an undergraduate degree in political science. She also received a juris doctor and Master of Law in employee benefits from John Marshall Law School in Chicago.
Powers was a benefits advisor with the U.S. Department of Labor in Chicago and eventually moved to Florida to practice with a private company. However, looking for something more, she started teaching part-time at a state college in Sarasota, Florida.
“I loved being in the classroom and sharing my knowledge with students, much like the way my professors taught me at Moraine Valley and my mom taught her students,” said Powers.
Eventually, Powers applied for a full-time position at St. Petersburg College and left her position with the private company. She is currently the program director for the College of Policy, Ethics, and Legal Studies, and among her responsibilities, supervises more than 40 part-time faculty members.
“I am so happy to be doing so many different things and making an impact to help shape future legal professionals and attorneys,” said Powers.
Powers has not only built the baccalaureate program and curriculum at St. Petersburg College, but also brings real-word experience to the classroom via mock trials where students act out all positions in a courtroom, from attorneys to the jury.
“I don’t forget where I came from, and I strive to be the best I can because my students deserve it,” said Powers. “I hope to not only inspire my students but my three children who often come to mock trials. They observe me just like I observed my mom.”