One professor can help change the course of a student’s life forever. No one knows this better than Christopher Przemieniecki, a 1992 graduate of Wright State University.
As a sociology major, one of Przemieniecki’s favorite professors was Jeanne Ballantine, who taught sociology at Wright State from 1971 until her retirement in 2008. She also served as department chair. To this day, Przemieniecki credits Ballantine with opening doors for him and encouraging him to pursue his passion for criminal justice.
“Dr. Ballantine gave so much of her time and energy to her students that she impacted many students’ lives,” said Przemieniecki. “She was highly respected by her colleagues and loved by her students. She taught us, challenged us and inspired us.”
Ballantine was more than a teacher to Przemieniecki. She became a mentor who helped launch his future career.
In addition to her teaching duties, Ballantine supervised internships for sociology students. She helped connect Przemieniecki to the City of Beavercreek’s police department, where he participated in the Citizens on Preventive Patrol program and worked with the department’s detective unit.
Przemieniecki’s internship provided him with the invaluable opportunity to go on patrol with officers, tag along on stakeouts, and help with polygraph examinations and evidence room documentation. Even after completing his internship, Przemieniecki continued to volunteer his time to the police department.
After graduating from Wright State with a bachelor’s degree in sociology, Przemieniecki went on to earn a master’s degree in criminal justice from Illinois State University and a Ph.D. from the University of North Dakota. He has spent the last 20 years researching street gangs across the United States. He has served as a gang consultant for law enforcement agencies, taught continuing education courses on gangs for adult probation and parole agents, and testified as a court expert on various gang-related immigration and deportation cases.
Przemieniecki is an associate professor in the Department of Criminal Justice at West Chester University in West Chester, Pennsylvania. He also serves as the internship coordinator and the faculty advisor to the Criminal Justice Student Association, which has more than 350 members. He incorporates many of Ballantine’s classroom activities and projects in his own teaching.
“Dr. Ballantine inspired me to pursue a career in criminal justice and eventually teaching,” said Przemieniecki. “Without even knowing it, she laid the foundation for me to follow in her footsteps. My passion, energy and excitement for teaching and research comes from Dr. Ballantine. She was a great mentor and role model for me and many others to follow.”
To honor the woman who influenced his professional path in life, Przemieniecki has created a scholarship in her name. The Jeanne Ballantine Scholarship will provide financial assistance to juniors or seniors majoring in sociology at Wright State.
Ballantine, who now lives in Amherst, Massachusetts, first learned of the scholarship when she received a letter from Przemieniecki.
“It was a wonderful day out of the blue,” she recalled. “Here comes this letter saying ‘you meant a lot and this internship changed my life.’”
While Ballantine was flattered that Przemieniecki remembered her, she was deeply touched to discover that she had made an impact on his life. Knowing that he followed in her footsteps and became a professor is icing on the cake.
“Chris is a real success story,” said Ballantine. “I’m just so excited that he’s out there in the world influencing students.”
Ballantine has fond memories of having Przemieniecki in her classes. He also served as her teaching assistant.
“I think the students could really relate to Chris,” she said. “He was just very personable and helpful to the students. He really cared about them making it and not giving up.”
As a faculty member, Ballantine saw firsthand how scholarships can make a difference in the life of a Wright State student.
“There are students who wouldn’t be where they are today without having had scholarships to help them through,” she said. “Those students have gone on to do many great things. They might not have had that opportunity without scholarships.”
Ballantine has also seen students struggle to find money for gasoline, babysitting or whatever else they might need to participate in an internship. She hopes the Jeanne Ballantine Scholarship will give students the financial assistance they need to pursue life-changing internship opportunities.
“Chris is making a big difference in many people’s lives,” said Ballantine. “I am just honored to have this scholarship named after me, and I hope it helps out students who really need it to be able to move on with their careers.”
Przemieniecki cannot think of a more fitting tribute to the woman he describes as “one of the best teachers, mentors and professionals I have ever encountered.”
“I am grateful for all that Dr. Jeanne Ballantine has done, and I find it only appropriate that a scholarship should be named after her,” he said. “I hope that this scholarship will inspire others to contribute and, in turn, will help current students pursue their passions and interests without the heavy burden of finances. Every little bit can help, and creating a legacy in the name of one of Wright State’s most beloved and influential professors is a way for past and present sociology students to say thanks.”