Grad student honored as future leader by AAC&U
2:24 p.m., Jan. 17, 2007--Amy Cass, a graduate student in sociology and criminal justice, has been chosen to receive the K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award for 2007 from the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U). The award “recognizes graduate students who are committed to developing academic and civic responsibility in themselves and others and who show exemplary promise as future leaders of higher education.”
Only eight students were selected to receive the prestigious award from approximately 125 nominations nationwide. Cass will accept the award at the AAC&U annual conference, Jan. 17-20, in New Orleans.
In a letter announcing the award, Suzanne Hyers, senior AAC&U director, wrote, “This was a highly competitive selection process... all of those associated with the award noted the incredibly impressive credentials of this year's nominees.”
Carol Geary Schneider, the president of AAC&U, said, “They represent the finest in the new generation of faculty who will teach and lead higher education in the next decades.”
In a letter of recommendation, Anne Bowler, associate professor of sociology and criminal justice and department director of graduate studies, wrote that Cass was one of the department's “hardest working, most disciplined students from the outset,” noting that while taking coursework and comprehensive exams for the doctoral program, Cass worked part time as a research assistant for the UD Center for Drug and Alcohol Studies, taught four courses for the department and was completing her teaching certification courses at UD's Center for Teaching Effectiveness.
In addition, Cass is a volunteer as a mentor at Baylor Women's Correctional Institute in Wilmington, conducting sessions for inmates on anger management, depression and domestic violence. Cass recognizes the importance of “combining scholarship with citizenry,” Bowler wrote, and is “worthy of the K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award, which recognizes both academic excellence and civic responsibility.”
A graduate of Florida State University with a bachelor's degree in criminology and a concentration in corrections, Cass was a volunteer as an undergraduate helping conduct men's group therapy sessions in a prison discussing violence and other topics. She also volunteered with the Sheriff's Office Crime Scene Unit, helping with evidence and taking part in officer ride-alongs. At the same time, she was a mentor for youth who had conflicts with the law.
“My work in prisons has taught me the importance of camaraderie. Incarcerated men and women often had unhealthy relationships before going to prison and will likely have them after leaving prison,” Cass said. “I am told by inmates how grateful they are that I just sit and talk with them. The opportunity to form a relationship and the knowledge that someone else cares about your future, I believe, is a key support for the imprisoned to change their course in life.”
At UD, she serves as a survey administrator, data analyst and publications/report developer for the Center for Drug and Alcohol Studies on such topics as underage drinking and risky sexual behavior.
Cass first became interested in criminal justice as a teenager when she admits to being fascinated with crime dramas. “As I grew older, I saw firsthand there were many individuals that law and policy fail to protect. I knew I wanted to do something with my life that would bring positive change to those who need it, and I feel a career in academia, which encompasses both research and education, would allow me to do that.”
Cass received her master's degree from UD in 2003. She has published articles and made presentations at professional conferences. Her doctoral dissertation is “Individual Perceptions of Stalking: An Examination of Extra-legal Factors.” Cass said she is examining the extent to which gender of the victim and gender of the offender, as well as the prior relation between the victim and offender, impact public perceptions of stalking behavior in efforts to assist the formulation of policy that would best assist victims.
Article by Sue Moncure