Ask a professor: Sindee Kerker

Sindee Kerker is professor of criminal justice in the College of Arts and Sciences. She has taught at Lynn since 1999, and her teaching specialty is in the area of criminal law and procedure. To honor her late brother, Michael Kain, who was an avid baseball fan, and to meet a need of student-athletes, she donated funds to build batting cages at Lynn.

The Michael Kain Batting Cages were dedicated on Feb. 8, 2011. She holds a B.A. from the University of Florida and a J.D. from Whittier College of Law. Last May, she earned the Outstanding Teacher of the Year award, which is voted by undergraduate students.

Where are you from originally?

Queens, New York.

What led you to study law?

I was always arguing against some type of injustice, and I wanted to save the world.

What brought you to Lynn University?

My children. They went to Pine Tree Camps, and I couldn’t help but marvel at such a beautiful campus. I had taken four years off from my career to be a full-time mother, and I thought teaching would fill a void once my kids went to kindergarten. I wondered if Lynn University had a criminal justice program. They did not when I started in 1999. So I came on board and helped develop the program, and I have watched it grow ever since.

What keeps you here?

The satisfaction I get in motivating my students and instilling a passion for learning. I love being able to guide students down a career path or toward solving real-world issues. I also want my students to believe in themselves and to realize that they have the potential to accomplish their goals.

How would you describe your teaching style?

I use the Socratic Method that is common in law school, only with TLC [tender loving care].

You’ve said that you believe in “teaching outside the box”—teaching outside the classroom. Can you give some examples?

I take students on field trips to see the criminal justice system in action. These trips have included tours of jails, prisons, and juvenile detention centers. I have taken students to court to watch pretrial proceedings and jury trials from start to completion. I also have taken them to observe Teen Court and Victim Impact Panels. I coordinated a ride-along program with Boynton Beach Police Department so that students can learn firsthand what police officers encounter while on patrol. And I take students on trips domestically and abroad to complement what we have studied in the classroom.

Some recent trips include: (1) the Presidential Inauguration of Obama in 2009 in Washington, D.C., (2) Germany and Amsterdam to observe the actual courtroom where the high-ranking Nazis were tried in Nuremberg and to visit its legacy—the International Criminal Court in The Hague in 2011, (3) London and France to compare and contrast the different criminal justice systems in 2010.

Any new ones you plan?

I am planning an academic program abroad in Israel for summer 2012. I also volunteered to be part of the Citizenship Project [freshman January Term] and to create a J-Term that involves community policing.

Fondest or proudest moments at Lynn?

Watching my students graduate. Being voted by the students as Faculty of the Year in 2011. Dedicating the batting cages for the baseball and softball student-athletes in memory of my brother.

Describe yourself in three words.

Passionate, committed, empathetic.

What is something that people would be surprised to know about you?

I have run two marathons: the Marine Corps Marathon and New York City Marathon. I like to listen to rap music. I graduated high school at 16, college at 19, law school in 2.5 years, and I was the youngest prosecutor in Los Angeles County.

Biggest influences in your life and why?

My husband, Ira, for his continued support and guidance in everything I do. My students for making me a better parent. My kids, Matthew and Sami, for making me a better professor.

What’s your favorite way to de-stress?

Running, working out at the gym, listening to music, watching movies and reading People magazines.

What are you reading now for enjoyment?

Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay.

Your favorite musician?

Barry Manilow and Mac MillIf you had three extra hours in every day, how would you spend them?er.

If you had three extra hours in every day, how would you spend them?

Grading papers.

If you weren’t a professor, what would you be?

A judge or legal analyst.

Your definition of living a good life?

Being a great wife, mom, professor, colleague, friend...and making a difference in other people’s lives.

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