Christine Stieferman | Reporter
April 22, 2016; 12:30 p.m.
From a young age, Billi Patzius knew that juvenile justice was her passion, but if you asked her several years ago if she ever saw herself teaching, she would probably have said no.
Today, Patzius has been at Lindenwood University for almost eight years and teaches classes in criminology, victimology and criminal justice practicum. She will be the commencement speaker at the graduate ceremony on Friday, May 13.
Patzius said it was here that she discovered a love for teaching and young people.
“The students are so energizing; I have a great time in the classroom,” Patzius said.
The feeling has been mutual; Patzius was chosen by the Lindenwood Student Government Association as Professor of the Year in 2014.
Before coming to teach, Patzius worked for the family court in St. Louis County as a juvenile officer. When her best friend, an adjunct professor at Lindenwood, approached her with the idea of teaching, she said she laughed.
“I never ever saw teaching on my radar, especially in higher education,” Patzius said.
Patzius eventually was persuaded to apply for the job, and now she says it was one of the best decisions she has ever made.
Patzius’ childhood was the reason behind her decision to pursue criminology as a career. Some of her family members had dealings with the criminal justice system, and she said this exposure piqued her interest in it.
“It just had such an impact on me working with certain people within the court, that it just hit me, this is what I wanted to do,” Patzius said.
She pursued an undergraduate in psychology and criminology at the University of Missouri at St. Louis and then went on to get her master’s degree in criminology before getting her doctorate from Saint Louis University.
Patzius maintains a busy schedule but says she loves every second of it. She has been married for 11 years and enjoys working out with her husband, who is a personal trainer, and spending time with their 10-year-old son. She also likes yoga and watching crime documentaries.
Patzius teaches four classes at Lindenwood and is the adviser for the Criminal Justice Student Association. This fall, she will be taking on the role of assistant dean for the School of Sciences.
But Patzius said she wants to continue on with her true passion of teaching juvenile justice.
“There are a lot of people who do not understand why kids end up in our system,” Patzius said. “I’m hopefully sending messages to our future criminal justice professionals about how they should respond to those kiddos and the best ways of working with them,” she said.