Written by Craig Schreiner | Photos by Craig Schreiner
In WHY I TEACH, Pete Killoran, lecturer in the Department of Sociology, Criminology and Anthropology, says working with a college mentor allowed him to see his own future. Born in Syracuse, New York, Killoran was drawn to anthropology at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Now he is a mentor to undergraduates in criminology and forensic science.
On a given day (or night), Killoran’s students may find themselves investigating a gritty, simulated crime scene created by Killoran to test their learning. His scenarios are closelyguarded secrets until class time, and they demand logic, attention to detail and accuracy. While the curriculum is more science-based than television-style forensic science, Killoran wants the learning to be stimulating and fun.
“Like many people I owe a tremendous amount to my parents. My father was a construction worker and my mother was a nurse. My mom was the first one in her family to go to college. My dad passed away when I was 11, but both my parents had instilled in me the value of hard work and the importance of a college education. My education at the University at Buffalo was challenging and I had to work a lot to stay in school. My mentor, Dr. Joyce Sirianni took me under her wing and had me work as an undergraduate teaching assistant. She allowed me to see my life ahead as an educator. I enjoy doing research with undergraduates and it all started because of my own experiences as an undergraduate. It made me appreciate with a little investment of time and concern what could be released in your students.”
“Thankfully, I had really kind mentors over the years, including my colleagues here at UW-Whitewater. I chose to work at UW-Whitewater because the dean had a vision of developing a forensics program here. We had a strong history of undergraduate research. It was a place where the faculty and staff clearly valued each other. It wasn’t a hard choice at all.
The students at UW-Whitewater remind me of a young me. Sometimes they have very clear ideas of what they want to do and other times they need a little help. Being a master adviser, I have enjoyed working through those decisions with them. Often their ideas about career choices in forensics and criminology are often colored by what I think is too much television viewing — a CSI effect. I try to show them what is really available in the work world and match them up with work in their skill sets. I also find it really fun when they realize they can do more with their degrees than they thought.”
“Nothing beats the joy when a student lets you know they have that new job, or they have been accepted into graduate school. Today, a student contacted me because she was awarded funding to do a blood spatter analysis for her undergraduate research project. She was happy to be able to do something that she always wanted to do. And I think it will help her get into graduate school. That’s the best.”
WHY I TEACH is a series about the dedicated professionals at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, including professors, coaches, advisors and other staff members, who make every day a teachable moment — and every place a learning place — by their expertise and example.