Meridian Star

Local News

June 21, 2013

Former detective pursues law degree

MERIDIAN —     Change is in the air for Collinsville native, Mark Chandlee. The 34-year-old graduated from Mississippi State University-Meridian in May and is headed to Mississippi College this summer to study law.

     A 1997 graduate of West Lauderdale, Chandlee earned an associate’s degree in Criminal Justice from East Mississippi Community College and went straight into the workforce. He was hired by the Meridian Police Department (MPD) where he worked for 11 years, five of those years as a detective.

    While working at the department he decided in order to go further in his career he needed to earn a bachelor’s degree.

    “I started out studying Criminology at MSU-Meridian since I had my associate’s degree in Criminal Justice,” Chandlee said. “After taking several classes I thought maybe I should broaden my focus into other disciplines so I changed my major to Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies (BSIS) and did coursework in Criminology, History, and Education.”

    When he first started back to school Chandlee’s focus was on furthering his career in law enforcement. Once he got into his studies, however, that focus shifted.

    “I was doing well at MSU-Meridian, while still working at the department, and I began to think, maybe I should keep on going,” he said.  

    Chandlee said several factors led to his decision, but one in particular was a writing assignment in his Writing for the Workplace class.

    “Dr. Kelley, associate professor of English, had all his students conducting interviews and writing about them and I began talking in-depth with judges, attorneys and others I had had dealings with in the course of my job with the MPD,” Chandlee said. “I discovered through those interviews that I really didn’t want to stop with just earning a bachelor’s degree so I decided to take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and I passed.”

    Chandlee was thrilled when he was accepted at Mississippi College School of Law since it was close to Meridian and has an excellent reputation. A father of five, he cited proximity as the deciding factor for attending MSU-Meridian as well which allowed him to work, take classes, and still have some time with his family.

    “I would never had gotten this far without MSU-Meridian – not just earning my undergrad degree, but the help of  professors like Dr. Kelley as well as Dr. Bates, assistant professor of history and Amanda Cook, instructor in Criminology.

    “Ms. Cook was a great instructor and would single out each of us personally to make sure we understood what was going on in the class and I really enjoyed that,” Chandlee said. "I also liked the fact that the Criminology classes I took opened up a whole new area to me than just the crime and punishment end that I was familiar with, particularly the effect of crime not only on the victim but the offender and society as well. And I’m thankful for all the research we did in Dr. Bates’ history classes, which will help me when researching case law, precedence, as well as where it originated.”

    Another local figure who was a huge help to Chandlee was Representative Charles Young, Jr.  

    “I previously met him (Young) through my job at the police department, but over the past few months he has bent over backwards to help me learn the ropes and navigate my way through the system at Mississippi College. I guess he saw something in me when we worked together that made him want to help me out and I am really appreciative.”

    Chandlee is also grateful for the opportunity that the Meridian Police Department extended to him years ago putting him through the police academy. And although he has resigned from the police department in order to concentrate on his studies full time, he is thankful for the support he’s had over the last decade.

    “I don’t know yet what area of law I want to pursue when I’m done in three years, but that will come. For now I’ve got my apartment set up and I’m just waiting for classes to begin.”

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