If you read the local papers or watch the evening news, you most likely know Abbie Crites-Leoni has made significant strides in dismantling drug trafficking in Southeast Missouri. As the Assistant U. S. Attorney, this former Wheatland, Wyo., resident represents the United States in drug trafficking cases in the Eastern District of Missouri. She spends the majority of her day preparing cases, writing legal briefs, representing the United States in suppression hearings and jury trials, as well as arguing appellate cases before the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Living in Jackson, Mo., Abbie says her job allows her the chance to make a difference in the safety of her community.
“I feel I have the opportunity to make a difference in my community as a result of prosecuting law violators for crimes that are committed in Southeast Missouri,” she said.
Prosecuting law violators is perhaps not what Southeast Theatre professors expected from Abbie. The daughter of two Southeast alumni, Abbie had great incentive to attend Southeast. She graduated from Southeast in May of 1993 with a double major in theatre and Spanish, and a minor in mass communication.
The skills she learned in her theatre classes led her to pursue a master of arts degree in speech communication from Southern Illinois University, finishing the program in December of 1995. But, Abbie had one more goal to achieve. She accomplished this in May 1998 when she graduated from Southern Illinois University with a Juris Doctor degree.
Abbie says the faculty and staff at Southeast gave her the needed stepping-stones upon which to build her career. Her time at Southeast also allowed her to participate in several theatre productions and extra-curricular activities.
“Southeast provided me with a solid education and mentors who encouraged me to continue my education,” she said. “Extra-curricular activities such as Emerging Leaders, Leadership Board, University Players and Presidential Ambassadors helped me further develop leadership and organizational skills that I use every day.”
Abbie loves the Cape Girardeau area, and takes full advantage of the winding country roads by riding her bike and taking in the beautiful farmland and rolling hills of the Missouri countryside. If she isn’t riding her bike, Abbie enjoys spending time outdoorsᾰwalking, traveling, hiking in the mountains and photographing the sites. Her favorite vacation spot is Alaska in the summer where she can go whale watching.
“The countryside is so big and beautiful in comparison to any other place I’ve been, because it’s untouched in so many ways,” she said. “I love the mountains and the wildlife.”
One day Abbie hopes to travel to Australia and experience the beauty and ruggedness of the Australian Outback.
In all of her many accomplishments in her education and her career, Abbie’s best advice for future Southeast students is to use the educational resources provided to them to the fullest extent.
“Take advantage of the knowledge and experience of the professors and staff at the University,” Abbie says. “Decide what you want to be, set goals related to your desired profession and pursue them.”