Faculty Focus: Marna Drum

by Cory Gray, Kent State Ashtabula Communications and Marketing Intern

Faculty Focus: 10 Questions is a new weekly feature where Kent State Ashtabula faculty members share their experiences, interests and advice for students. The first set of questions is answered by Marna Drum, sociology lecturer and criminology and justice studies faculty.

1: When did you start working at the campus?
I started teaching at Kent State University between 2001 and 2002. I then worked at both the Ashtabula and Kent campuses for a year. My first semester at Ashtabula was in the fall of 2005. 

2: What do you teach?
I am the lead faculty for the Criminology and Justice Studies program, meaning that I can teach any course in our curriculum that is in that program, and I am also a sociologist. I regularly teach Criminology, Women in Crime, Juvenile Justice/Juvenile Delinquency, and all of the classes that are centered on drugs. In sociology, I am the professor for the gerontology courses like Aging in Society and Death and Dying. I also teach Deviant Behavior, and I am teaching Intro to Sociology this fall.

3: What inspired you to follow your chosen path of study?
When I was in graduate school, I went for a degree in Sociology, and I had to pick a discipline in Sociology. My area of specialty was family, and through that, I became interested in the elderly.  I became a professor in the Criminal Justice program because there was a need for someone to teach in that discipline. My major as an undergraduate was in that program for a while. I shifted my focus and found that I enjoyed it. 

I combined doing personal research, such as research on elderly offenders, and moved from there to Ohio's aging prison population. After that, I focused on research on drugs. This is how everything has come together to where I am at today.

4: What areas of research or other areas of academic pursuit do you focus on? What attracts/attracted you to that area and what do you find makes it so interesting?
My first favorite area of study was looking at drugs and alcohol. I became attracted to it due to family members having issues with them. It interested me because of how quickly drugs change in our culture and the changing laws, rules of use, and punishment.

My second favorite area of interest is studying corrections. I think that students are in a marvelous place right now. They are in school during a time of tremendous change, so we're moving away from the use of prisons as a type of punishment to more of the community sanctions. I love seeing the changes in our culture right now. I think that we can be more effective in treating people for their criminogenic behavior (which is their criminal minds) in a community setting as opposed to a prison setting.

5: What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I wanted to be an FBI agent and a lawyer.

6: What is your favorite thing about teaching?
I love the students. I love getting to know the students we have here at this campus. I get charged up knowing that when people come to our facility, they do not have much experience. Through the classes that they take here, and through the faculty that we have at our campus, I think our students are incredibly fortunate. They can do an awful lot because of whom we have here at this campus. 

I also think at a bigger campus, you are not getting the same type of individual instruction that you would have by being at a smaller school with fewer students in a class. If you talk to any of our justice majors, they can tell you that they have been to 10 prisons and spoken to inmates. They have done ride-alongs with local police and participated in hands-on activities regularly that would not be possible in a more prominent location. That makes them more job-ready than somebody whose only experience is in a classroom.

7: What do you like to do outside of campus?
I play softball, volleyball and golf. I swim, snorkel and dive. I love traveling and being part of other cultures. I do volunteer work. I want to make my community a better place. I got tired of complaining about all of the problems so now I want to be part of the solution.

8: What makes this campus “Awesome”?
First and foremost, the people who are here make this campus awesome. It isn't about how beautiful the buildings look, or how well maintained the grass is. It has nothing to do with the physical facilities; it's about the people. 

We have many people who genuinely care about what's going on in our society and about the students who are the next generation of doers in our country.

9: What advice would you give to students?
Get involved. Do something more than just come to class. Make yourself stand out compared to your classmates. Helping others is the best type of therapy.

10. What is the most helpful advice you have received?
The best advice I have received is that there is always someone more significant than you. When you think that you are at the top of your game, there is still someone who is better. This means you are going to have to work twice as hard to get half as far. I internalized that. I worked really hard to be at the level that I am at right now. 

Education is lifelong. You do not just get a four-year degree and be done with school after that. You still learn something new every day, and I have learned more from my students than I could ever teach them. 

We are living in a time where there is so much change, coming so fast, to where you cannot be proficient in any one thing. You have to keep learning, and by continually learning you are preserving your youth.

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