Andrina Morence, Ph.D., assistant professor of social science, has only served The University of Olivet for two years, but she’s already become part of the Comet family. Professor Morence’s passion for law enforcement only comes second to her love of teaching, and her extensive background in criminal justice allows her to connect with students interested in any aspect of the field. Beyond her role in the classroom, she has even become an institutional representative for OC in the Mi-ACE organization, designed to help foster women’s leadership in academia. Professor Morence has become more than just a professor – she is as a mentor, advocate and role model to students.
Why do you love working at The University of Olivet?
I taught at another college in the past and when I arrived at The University of Olivet, I felt a real sense of family and a caring environment that was absent from the other college. I had a strong sense of belonging to something greater than myself, and I wanted to be a part of it. I really love the diversity and the inclusive atmosphere that The University of Olivet offers.
Where do your passions for law enforcement and teaching stem from?
I spent about six years working for the Michigan Department of Corrections as a corrections officer before I took a corrections deputy position with the Ingham County Sheriff’s Office. I had worked in that capacity for about 18 months when I was approached by the administration. They asked if I was interested in attending the Mid-Michigan Police Academy and becoming licensed as a Police Officer. I had never thought of working in law enforcement, but I was intrigued by the idea. I graduated from the police academy and worked on the road for about five years before being promoted to sergeant. Ten years after that, I became a lieutenant. I retired from the Sheriff’s Office after nearly 20 years of service due to a physical disability.
When I was a deputy for the Ingham County Sheriff’s Office, I was also a DARE instructor. I taught drug resistance education programming to students in the Holt School District. I was able to have direct interaction with students from kindergarten through high school. It was during this time that I developed a love for teaching. I knew that at some point I would change my career path from law enforcement to teaching.
How would you describe your teaching style?
I like to be as interactive as possible. I think students comprehend the material best when they have an active role in their learning. I also like to be available to my students whenever they need me. Anyone who has taken a class from me knows they can reach me pretty much anytime.
What is the average day in your job, or some of the unique things you are responsible for?
Part of my day is spent preparing for classes. I consider teaching to be the most important thing that I do, so I spend time fine-tuning my lectures and thinking of ways to make the class as interactive and interesting as possible. In addition to that, I spend time grading papers, answering emails, attending meetings, and I also try to spend some time studying materials (journal articles, books) that keep me current in my field of expertise.
Why would you encourage high school students to attend The University of Olivet?
I love this college so I couldn’t advise anyone to go anywhere other than here. When I think of some larger schools, I think of how a student can get lost in the crowd. Here at Olivet, students can really be part of a close-knit family. They can easily meet with or otherwise contact their professors and get answers to their questions. I am proud of the community feeling present at Olivet, and I just don’t think students can get that quality elsewhere.
What do you look forward to in your role?
I am looking forward to Commencement! Last year as an adjunct, I did not participate in Commencement, but now that I am here full-time, I am very invested in the success of our students. I can’t wait to see them walk across the stage to receive their degrees! I think I might be smiling and cheering more than they will be.
What is the number one piece of advice you share with students?
One thing I always tell my advisees when we talk about their academic performance and their future is, “finish well, not fast.” By that, I mean don’t be in a rush to finish your college career at the expense of your academic performance. Instead of taking a class only because it is required for your major, try to take as much away from that learning experience as you can. You have your entire life ahead of you and you don’t want to go through college as a mediocre student and have little to show on the other side. Your future employer or graduate school is going to want to see your transcripts. Take your time and be mindful about what you’re learning at every step of your college career.
Why is fostering women’s leadership important to you?
Women in leadership positions has been a research topic of mine and is something I hold to be of the high importance. I think one of the most pervasive obstacles to women excelling as leaders is self-doubt. It is important for women to encourage and promote one another and make sure that every woman understands there is nothing she cannot achieve.
I am one of the institutional representatives for The University of Olivet in the Mi-ACE organization. The goal of the organization is to promote women leaders in academia. I am very happy to be part of this organization and look forward to all that we will accomplish together.
This year’s conference will be held June 4 and 5 in Lansing under the theme Make a Difference: Leading in a Climate of Change. The event will focus around generating a sense of urgency elevating the need for advancing women within higher education, recommended practices for recruiting and hiring women, strengthen and expand support for Women of Color, recognize success in advancing women in higher education and more.
What is an interesting or little known fact about yourself?
I have had eight knee surgeries due to congenital defects. I have managed pain all my life and in spite of my limitations, I will be participating in a half marathon in April. I am also a vegetarian.
Learn more about OC’s criminal justice major, and visit campus to meet professors in the program, like Professor Morence. Contact the Office of Admissions at 800.456.7189 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.