Faculty Spotlight: Q&A with Jennifer Haese

Jennifer Haese

Faculty Spotlight: Q&A with Jennifer Haese

Instructor brings years of legal experience into the classroom

| By: Daley-Hinkens, Carmelyn M

Jennifer Haese earned a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and attended Western Michigan University Cooley Law School. Over the past 15 years, Jennifer has been an attorney, an associate dean of students, a human resources manager and now an instructor in the Legal Studies/Paralegal program.  

Tell us about yourself.   

I was a first-generation college student when I attended undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. I double majored in Criminal Justice and Psychology with the hope of becoming a homicide detective. However, after unexpected encouragement from a professor, I went to law school in Michigan; after graduation, I opened my practice in the Fox Valley where I specialized in Criminal Defense, Family Law and Employment Law.   

I knew I eventually wanted to use my law degree in a higher education setting, so after five years of practicing, I went back to school to earn a master’s degree in Administrative Leadership – Higher Education Administration and accepted the role of Associate Dean of Students at UW-Oshkosh.   

In 2018, I transitioned to FVTC in an HR manager role, where I again used my law degree in a different and meaningful way. I also adjunct taught for FVTC as well as UW-Oshkosh during that time. When the opportunity became available to apply for the full-time teaching position at FVTC, I applied, and the rest is history. 

I have been a full-time instructor for FVTC since January 2020. I also serve on the Behavioral Intervention Team (BIT) and Title IX committee at FVTC. In my free time, I love traveling with my family, golf, volleyball and photography.   

Tell us about the classes you teach.  

I am an instructor in the Legal Studies/Paralegal associate degree program, which immerses students in legal information and teaches critical thinking, legal research, legal writing and ethical conduct; all of which are needed to support attorneys in a variety of capacities. Due to my unique background and experience, I also teach legal classes for the Human Resources, Criminal Justice and Culinary Arts programs.   

What attracted you to teaching?  

I am a lifelong learner and get so much joy out of the process of learning. Everybody remembers those incredibly special teachers in their past that inspired us to want to learn more. Sharing that joy and making learning fun is a tremendously rewarding experience. For example, when you combine Weird Al Yankovic with Coolio - you have a pop culture parody example which becomes the topic of a legal research and writing class assignment!      

What do you enjoy most about your students?  

This is a hard question because there are so many different things I enjoy about my students - individually and collectively. While Ian Maclaren is thought to be the source of the quote, I appreciate Robin Williams’ version which is, “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.” I try to live by those words every day, especially with my students. We have single-parent households; economically struggling; caregivers to extended families, students fighting oppression; students working full time jobs on top of school to care for their families; and students struggling with personal crises and mental health challenges. Regardless of their circumstance, they choose to give FVTC their time and money to better their life and future. This takes a tremendous amount of grit and perseverance. I enjoy being a cheerleader, educator and support system for this part of their journey.  

What is the goal of the Legal Studies Association (LSA)?  

As an advisor for LSA, my goal is to foster opportunities and networking within the legal field. One of our biggest events each fall semester is inviting past graduates of the program to serve on a panel, where they share their experiences with current students in the program. This event is so valuable for current students because they get to hear first-hand from graduates in their program. Another way I foster opportunities is by collaborating with the Free Legal Clinics in the Fox Valley Area to give students a chance to gain hands-on experience with local attorneys in the area. And I am particularly excited about “Court with the Classroom.” In January 2024, LSA traveled to Madison where we heard oral arguments at the Wisconsin Supreme Court, followed by an opportunity to meet the justices.

If you could share one piece of advice with students, what would it be?  

The classroom is the safest place to learn and make mistakes. Be curious, ask questions, ask for help, and guess out loud. Be comfortable with getting something wrong because those are the steppingstones to learning.   

If you were not teaching, what would you do?  

If I were to go back in time, I think I would pick something different. Something a little more right brained, so creative and artistic. I have always been drawn to architecture/interior design and photography. Sometimes I have wondered where I would be right now had I never gone to law school. Would I be a homicide detective? Or would I be featured in Architectural Digest?  

One interesting detail that might surprise your colleagues and students. 

I love photography and it might surprise others to know I have had a photography business for more than 10 years. I recently published a senior portrait session on social media and Discover Oshkosh reached out because it is interested in having some of those images appear in the next edition of the Oshkosh Visitor’s Guide. How cool is that!