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The College of Applied Science and Technology (CAST) at Illinois State University is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. This series, CAST 50×50, is designed to highlight 50 faculty, staff, students, alumni, and organizations within CAST that make the college special. These notable people will tell you that every day in CAST is a great day to be a Redbird.

You’re probably wondering, how close to 50 profiles are we? Well, believe it or not, we’ve done it! #CAST50 concludes its year-long series with another wonderful faculty member, Shelly Clevenger from the Department of Criminal Justice Sciences.

You grew up in Pennsylvania. How did you get to Illinois?

I have been in Illinois for five years. When I was on the job market, I saw the ad for Illinois State. After researching the department and the university, I decided to apply because I thought it looked like a great place to be. I was fortunate enough to get an interview and get hired! While it was hard moving away from my family in the Pittsburgh area, it was definitely worth it as I love ISU!

What are your areas of research?

My area of research centers on sexual assault and intimate partner violence. The bulk of my research is qualitative in which I do face-to-face interviews with sexual assault victims and also their family members, spouses, and friends. The goal of my research is to give a voice to these individuals so that their experiences with victimization, the criminal justice system and coping can be heard. I want my students and others that read my research to understand the suffering that is involved with these types of victimizations. I also have focused on how victims and their families have experienced online victimization. For example, many victims of sexual assault and intimate partner violence often suffer additional victimization online through cyberstalking, cyber harassment, revenge porn, and sextortion.

Shelly Clevenger

What is your favorite part about being a Redbird?

The best part of being a Redbird is the connectedness and feeling of family here at ISU. I have only been here five years and I have had a lot of support and encouragement from students, faculty and administrators. My favorite time of year here at ISU is the fall and Homecoming! I love the parade and the CAST tailgate. I look forward to the brat burgers all year! Plus, now that I have a daughter, it is great to take her to all of the Homecoming activities! Last year was her first parade and she had a great time!

If you weren’t an assistant professor in criminal justice, what would you be doing?

I actually had not planned on majoring in criminal justice. My whole life growing up I really wanted to design clothes. I was initially a fashion design major and accepted into a design school. In high school, I made many of my own clothes (including my prom gown) and created patterns from scratch using a body form. It was not until my spring semester of my senior year that I took an elective, criminology and law, that I decided that I wanted to change majors and colleges. So, if I was not a criminal justice professor, I probably would have been in fashion either working to design gowns or costumes. However, I still do sew. I make my own patterns for clothes, costumes for comic con, and Halloween!

What is the most exciting experience you’ve had because of your career?

In December 2016, I was selected to present my research at the United Nations Women in New York City. To me, this was winning the academic Oscar! The UN! It was amazing! It was rather surreal being there and presenting to such an audience. This was definitely the best moment of my career so far.

Clevenger presented at the United Nations Women conference this past December.

Bloomington-Normal is home to the most restaurants per capita in the United States. You’re sitting at home and don’t want to cook, what restaurant do you choose?

I always chose Anju Above. It is my absolute favorite! I am also the biggest fan of Sugar Mama’s. I stop in once a week for a cupcake (or two) and you can usually find me at Starbucks once a day. I am a coffee enthusiast!

What advice do you give to a #FutureRedbird considering Illinois State?

For future Redbirds, I would say that choosing Illinois State would be a wonderful decision. It has all the great characteristics of both a large and small university. The students have lots of opportunities for involvement and activities, yet the faculty know their names and care about them. Students rarely get lost in the crowd here as our classes are small enough that we know our students.

For my CJS graduating students, I always give them the same advice, be you! Don’t try to conform to who you think an employer wants you to be or who you feel that you have to be to get the job. This is especially important for our students as the criminal justice system can be a rather regimented, conservative and/or traditional place. I think that it can be intimidating for our students and our female students in particular. But I try to lead by example to my students that you can be yourself and be different and still be able to have a successful career.