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York College Criminal Justice Major Turns Knack for Arguing into a Career

A student posing in front of the campus fountain

Samantha Weil-Kaspar ’21 found a second home and a major she loves at York College. She’ll graduate a semester early and head off to law school to “serve the people.”

Samantha Weil-Kaspar ’21 is great at arguing. As a kid, people told her so all the time. Not just family either—she heard it from everyone. So, it was no surprise she wanted to become a lawyer.

After high school, a brief stint as a Biology major at York College of Pennsylvania confirmed she was more into how people act than how their bodies work. She eventually found her place in the Criminal Justice department. “Everything made sense,” she says. “It felt like I belonged here.”

Now, heading into her final semester, she’s one step closer to making her dream a reality and putting her arguing skills to good use.

Asking questions

When Weil-Kaspar first visited York College she knew it was the place for her. “It was just the community,” she says. “It felt like my second home.”

But, as soon as she left the tour, she thought of a million questions she wished she’d asked. She keeps that in mind now that she’s a York College tour guide herself, answering questions from prospective students she wished she’d thought to ask four years ago. It’s a job she loves.

“I get to show them why everyone who goes to York loves York,” she says.

‘It felt like real life’

Pre-COVID-19, probation officers and judges would visit classrooms and give talks. One day, a class went to York County Prison to experience that aspect of criminal justice in person.

Those experiences made the material she was learning come to life. She wasn’t just reading from a textbook, she was hearing directly from the people who did these jobs day in and day out. “It felt like real life,” she says.

When the pandemic took field trips off the table, her professors continued to bring in guest speakers to their Zoom classrooms. “You get the real experience,” she says. “You got to hear from someone who lives that life and has that career.”

One of her most memorable classes was for her Criminalistics minor. The classroom was set up like a crime scene, and she and her classmates learned how it would be approached by the professionals, right down to the fingerprinting. It was even cooler than watching the true-crime Netflix shows she loves.

Everything clicked

Weil-Kaspar got her first opportunity to put her knowledge and arguing skills to the test during an internship that led to a summer job at Rebar Kelly, a civil litigation law firm.

She got to do a little bit of everything—read reports and deposition summaries, administrative work, and attorney work. “It definitely lived up to my hopes and expectations,” she says. “Now I know this is the field I was meant to be in. Everything clicked, and I’m where I’m supposed to be.”

Thanks to careful planning and the help of her advisor Kirsten Witherup, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice, Weil-Kaspar will be graduating a semester early with plans to attend law school after that.

She’s not sure yet what kind of law she wants to pursue, but she knows the impact she wants to have. “I want to serve the people,” she says, “make them whole again.”