Christie Gardiner

If you asked 13-year-old me what I wanted to be when I grew up I would have told you "a full-time lawyer and psychologist reforming juvenile delinquents & in my two weeks off each year I want to be a missionary in the Amazon!" People would ask "Do you really think you can do all that?" Of course, my answer was an emphatic "YES!" My 13-year-old self didn't know about all the career options out there, but I did know that I wanted to help people, specifically young people who committed crime. I wanted to know what drove them to commit crime. I thought that if I could improve the situations in their life that led them to commit crime, I could help them and make their life happier and better. I was naïve and innocent and optimistic. I’m still one of those things…optimistic. As I got older I discovered that I love research! I studied abroad at Lancaster University in England during my junior year. I almost stayed and finished my degree but I was accepted into the honors program at UCI and that meant I was going to do independent research with a faculty mentor! I was so excited! I couldn’t turn down that opportunity so I went back and completed my research project (looking at the economic cycles associated with criminological theories). At the end of my senior year, I asked my mentor what I should do next. He told me “Go to Cambridge (England)!” I insisted that I wasn’t smart enough to go there and he sat down with me and said some really nice and inspiring things. Next thing you know, we had a bet and I was applying to Cambridge (he said if I applied and got in I could take him to lunch and if I didn’t get in, he would take me to lunch – either way I was going to lunch with my mentor, whom I admired, and that was worth whatever time it took to apply). To my shock, I got in! Doing my M.Phil. at Cambridge University was AMAZING (Nerd heaven)! During high school and college, I volunteered as a police explorer and a juvenile probation officer. After college I worked as a police dispatcher and a crime analyst. While I enjoyed these jobs, I knew God was calling me back to school to get my PhD and become a professor. I started my PhD program with a husband and a 17-month-old daughter and added another daughter (and a dog) along the way. It was a really hard road but it was also absolutely worth it. I’ve seen God open and close doors. He once took me out of ministry with the instruction “I need you to finish your dissertation.” Boy, that was weird. God calling someone out of ministry to pursue a non-ministerial purpose. Yet, he did. And I’m here. Now in my 13th year at CSU Fullerton. I love working with students and developing them into the young men and women they want to be…inspiring them to pursue their dreams and recognize how much they have to offer to the world. We are all unique. God has gifted each of us with special talents and skills that no one else has. He has a purpose for each of us. Find and live your purpose!

My Life

Favorite Quote

How High I Aim How Far I See How High I Reach Depends on Me! (My dad gave me this quote in a card at my high school graduation and it has been my favorite quote ever since)

Friends describe me

Strong, Independent, Dependable, Serious

My hobbies

Spending time with my family

Fantasy dinner guests

Oprah, Rosa Parks (and her mother)

Best advice I ever received

Live for yourself in your youth because someday you will have a family and you will be able to give more to your family if you've already pursued your dreams.

My undergrad alma mater

University of California, Irvine

My worst subject in school


In college I drove

a maroon Pontiac Fiero (we once fit 5 people in it)

If I weren't a professor, I would

a crime analyst or federal investigator

Favorite books

books about crime/criminality; inspirational books; Malcolm Gladwell books

Favorite movies

Die Hard! Legally Blonde...almost any crime drama

Favorite city

Lahaina, Hawaii or Capitola, CA

Favorite coffee

Diet Coke

Nobody knows I

used to skydive (I had my B license)

My latest accomplishment

Losing 20+ pounds. Helping my students produce a video called Bridging the Gap that features community members and officers sharing their hearts in an effort to bring the two sides closer together.

Current Research

Policing -- specifically higher education in policing but also other aspects of policing and criminal justice policy