Elgin native Laura Haske, JD, assistant paralegal professor and paralegal instructional coordinator, moved out of state for college and lived in a few different cities before returning to Elgin in 2009, a move that was prompted by the desire to be closer to family.
"My family is here. I have two brothers and a sister; they all live in Elgin, along with my parents-who are amazing,” said Haske. “I'm very close to my family, and so is my husband, so that eventually brought us back.”
Two years after returning to her hometown, Haske started teaching the Legal Environment of Business course at ECC as an adjunct instructor while working full-time with her husband at their law firm, Haske & Haske, P.C. (the firm focuses on real estate law). It was Haske's long-time friend and mentor Mike Kalland, business unit adjunct faculty, who told her about the paralegal program at ECC and encouraged her to apply.
Having taught a legal research class during her last year of law school at Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul, Minn., Haske found that “sharing her knowledge about the law with first year students was very rewarding,” and was looking forward to the opportunity to do so once more.
Before teaching at ECC, Haske attended an intensive, immersive summer study abroad program in Cuernavaca, Mexico through ECC while getting her undergraduate degree. She stayed with a host family there and could only speak Spanish for the entirety of the program. Though she didn't use her Spanish much while living in Minnesota after graduating from college, Haske credits the School District U-46's dual-language program that her son is in for helping her brush up on her Spanish-speaking skills, as she practices with him at home.
Today, Haske continues to share her knowledge and legal expertise with students who are in the ECC paralegal program or others who are interested in the law.
We caught up with Haske to ask her some questions about her life and her work at ECC. Here are her answers.
In your words, what do you do at ECC?
I prepare students to begin working in the legal field as entry-level paralegals and I give them a real-life perspective on what it means to be a lawyer. I also ensure that ECC's paralegal program maintains its approved status with the American Bar Association, and I continue to develop relationships with attorneys and paralegals in the local legal community.
What is your greatest accomplishment since you've been here?
My students. They do amazing things! I wish I could take credit for their achievements, but they do the hard work. Any contribution that I make to their journey of learning and growing as individuals and professionals is the greatest accomplishment I'll ever make in my role at the college.
What would you do if you were ECC president for a day?
It's a tough job. I don't think I would even want it for a day. I'd just park in Dr. Sam's parking spot and then do my normal job. I'd give him the day off, though.
If there was a movie about your life, who would you want to play you?
A few times a year someone tells me that I remind them of a certain actress. So far that list includes: Evangeline Lilly, Jessica Biel, Laura Prepon, Alexis Bledel and Daisy Ridley. I'm sure any of these women would do a fine job.
What's on your “bucket list?”
I'd like to be a judge, an appellate judge specifically, and start a real estate investment company based in Elgin.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I was an English major in college and have always been a bookworm. I'm usually reading two to three books at any given time (at least one of those being an audio book) and I'm in a book club with several friends from Elgin High School. I also played Division I tennis in college. My dad taught me how to play, and now he and I travel to play national father-daughter tournaments. I also play on a ladies league out of the South Barrington Club.
When my husband and I got married 13 years ago, I didn't know how to cook at all; but I was good at reading and following recipe directions. Now, I love my time in the kitchen. My husband does all the cleaning and laundry at our house, so I feel like I got a good deal. Cooking is way more fun when someone cleans up after you!
Where was the best place you've traveled to?Or, where would you like to visit?
My husband's family is from the eastern end of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. It's one of my favorite places to go (especially in the summer). My mom's side of the family is from the San Juan Islands in Washington, so that holds a special place in my heart. Anywhere that has mountains is where I prefer to be. Funny that I ended up in Illinois, eh?
If I could travel anywhere, I'd go to Barcelona, Spain. I've wanted to see it in person ever since reading Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón.
What's one fact we should know about you?
I live in an old Victorian house in downtown Elgin. In the winter, I live by the wood-burning fireplace. It's my favorite spot in the house.
What's something about your job that others should know?
Anyone who is interested in law should take a paralegal class. AA or AS students can count paralegal classes toward their elective credits. To me, there's nothing more fascinating or intellectually stimulating than the law.
What would be your “theme song?”
“Where I Go” by Natalie Merchant.
What was your favorite class in school?
History of the English Language at Belmont University with Dr. Monteverde; it was an interesting class and it's also where I met my husband.
What was your first job out of school?
I was a legal assistant to an attorney in Minneapolis after completing my undergraduate degree. After law school, I worked as a litigator for a large law firm in Minneapolis.
What quote best describes your philosophy?
“We lose ourselves in books. We find ourselves there too.” - Anonymous
Complete this sentence: “I enjoy working at ECC because…”
I get to interact with the future leaders of my community every day when I work with ECC students.