Coburn Palmer/ Roundup
It’s Wednesday evening at Pierce College and a crowd shuffles in.
Students coming to take Kathy Oborn’s criminal justice class fill the auditorium-style classroom with talk and laughter as a bubbling energetic teacher walks in.
Kathy Oborn, the chair of the political science/economics/criminal justice/Latino studies department, is a legend at Pierce College.
Oborn has created a system for her students to follow in order to transfer effortlessly to a California State University and earn an AA degree from Pierce.
She caters to all of her students and her Wednesday night class was no exception.
“It’s easier if you roll each others fingers, that way you get a clean print,” she instructed to her class. “It’s just like in the movies.”
Oborn, a parent of seven, first came to Pierce as a student in 1972.
“I know where all the bodies are buried,” she said.
In 1996 she returned to Pierce as a Dean of Student Services. After a program reducing the number of deans at all of the junior colleges in the district, she became a criminal justice instructor and built what is today’s criminal justice department at Pierce.
“She teaches a lot about your rights,” said freshmen Supo Ojeikere. “Stuff that people don’t really think about.”
She was instrumental in bringing in a judge, a deputy district attorney and a retired police lieutenant to teach criminal justice classes.
“We’re not a police program,” she said. “We focus on the justice system as a whole. We’re an academic track.”
Oborn was a police officer herself for five years, but after suffering an injury, she was retrained and joined the Pierce community.
“The police officer thing doesn’t define me, the Pierce thing [does],” she said.
Oborn has no budget for supplies and chooses to bring many of her materials from her home including FBI fingerprint cards, print pads, and magnifying glasses.
Her friendly manner makes her approachable and it’s because of that, many students have been enticed into the criminal justice program after taking one of her courses.
“I took her Administration of Justice class and I wanted to learn more,” said Maty Leimert, a criminal justice major.
After 38 years of being on the campus, Oborn works hard so her students have the best time.
“My motto is there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy going to school,” Oborn said.