For those who dedicate their careers to public service and supporting their communities, there is always another chapter to scribe and goals to achieve. For Cheyney University student Claire Lane, she is on her way to completing another stage in her life, which is already full of professional and personal accomplishments focused on helping those most in need.
Lane, who has spent more than 30 years in law enforcement and criminal justice, will graduate in May 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in social relations with a concentration in criminal justice. She enrolled in Cheyney in the fall of 2019 with an associate degree in criminal justice under her belt from the Community College of Philadelphia.
“I chose these particular studies at Cheyney because I wanted a broader perspective of criminal justice and I knew a degree in social relations would provide it,” said Lane. “I always wanted to attend Cheyney because I understand the value of our HBCUs, and it has been the best experience of my life.”
Miss Claire, as her fellow students call her, knows something about the criminal justice system. She is a former Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) officer who rose in the ranks to become a detective and served on the force for more than 20 years. When she retired from the PPD, she immediately joined the Defender’s Association of Philadelphia as an investigator and has been with them ever since, even while she was a Cheyney student.
Upholding the law and providing support for those who need guidance through the judicial system is something that has been part of the Lane family. Lane’s daughter is the Honorable Judge Timika Lane, who was first elected in 2013 and handles major trials in Philadelphia’s Court of Common Pleas’ Criminal Division.
“My mother didn’t stay retired for long,” said Judge Lane. “After leaving the Philadelphia Police Department she couldn’t stay still and was retired for about two weeks before joining the Defender’s Association.”
“When she told me she was thinking about going to Cheyney, she said she thought she was too old to go back to school. I told her she absolutely can do it, that age has nothing to do with it. I’m so proud of her.”
Lane spent a lot of time talking with Kizzy Morris, University Provost & Chief Academic Officer, who provided a lot of support and encouragement.
“Because of my age, I was a little intimidated at first, so I was asking questions about everything. Everyone, from the teachers, to my fellow students were so helpful and supportive,” said Lane. “I asked questions constantly in all of my classes and what I noticed was after I was asking questions, my classmates would start. That’s how we learn, and all of my teachers encouraged that. The students come first at Cheyney.”
Cheyney’s Social Relations program provides a broad liberal arts background that prepares students for graduate training in any number of fields. It also provides a base for pursuing a career in law, law enforcement, justice administration, and other social science-related professions. It provides a path to establishing careers that can positively impact all communities.
The women of the Lane Family embrace the perspective of setting high standards for themselves and serving the community.
Judge Lane, a graduate of Howard University and Rutgers University’s School of Law, is the sole judge handling human trafficking cases in Philadelphia and is currently running for a seat on the Pennsylvania Superior Court. She has extensive trial experience as a judge and attorney and a lifelong commitment to public service and justice. Values, she said that she learned from her mother.
“I’ve always had a passion for service to the community,” said Judge Lane. “My grandmother worked in a cafeteria and she was someone the neighborhood knew they could go to if they needed help. We were taught that you don’t take from the community without giving something back.”
Judge Lane continued, “In addition to focusing on her own coursework, my mom helps a lot of students because that’s the type of person she is.”
Under the visionary leadership of President Aaron Walton, and with the support of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Cheyney is on a clear path to a brighter future, providing unique academic opportunities for all students of all ages and experiences.
“I’m the kind of person who always has to be involved in something,” said Lane. “One thing that I’ve learned in my life and something that my experiences at Cheyney has served to reinforce in me is that you have to be the change you want to see in the world.”