Courtney Schlotterbeck '21
When McDaniel launched the Criminal Justice program in her junior year, Courtney Schlotterbeck '21 knew it was the right major for her. With instructors with decades of professional experience as lawyers, law enforcement, and judges, the program gave her a deep dive into subjects that tie right in to her work as a paralegal.
For Courtney Schlotterbeck ’21, a passion for Criminal Justice runs in her blood. Her family has ties in law enforcement and the military, so when it was time for college, there was no doubt about her path. When she decided to enroll at McDaniel, the college’s Criminal Justice program was still in the proposal stage, but the Sociology major was a good compromise to get her into the small-knit community on the Hill that she was drawn to.
“When I did my first tour of McDaniel, I was kind of just like, ‘I can see myself here,’” Schlotterbeck says. “I noticed that students were smiling at each other, waving across campus, and interacting really well with one another. I knew it was a place I was going to feel comfortable.”
And then the stars really aligned when, in the fall of 2020, the Criminal Justice major was approved for enrollment. Schlotterbeck changed her major immediately, so she’d be able to finish out her college career in the field she really saw herself in.
“A lot of things were happening at the time in our society where people weren’t getting the justice they deserved,” Schlotterbeck says. “People were struggling and no one was fighting for them in the way that they should have. I wanted to be part of that change.”
She had already taken multiple courses with faculty who would be the core of the program, and she couldn’t wait to dive in deeper.
“The Criminal Justice program as a whole was very unique in terms of the faculty,” she says. “Kathi Hill had the background from being an attorney, Marc Rasinsky was a practicing judge, and James Dewees was a sheriff. So, you were learning from all these people that actually work or worked in the legal field and the justice system. It wasn’t just somebody that went to school and studied it, but they were people who had real-life experience in the field. That’s what made learning from them and taking their classes so enriching to me.”
Her career goals at the time were to either apply for a job with the Maryland State Crime Lab or to eventually become a police officer. But now, Schlotterbeck is working as a paralegal for a law firm in Florida.
“As a paralegal, I’m doing civil law, primarily in the area of personal injury law,” she says. “I’m drafting complaints, doing discovery with clients, and requesting medical records and medical bills. No two days ever look the same for me, and I absolutely love it.”
Schlotterbeck never thought about law school until she started working as a paralegal side by side with her attorney. But now, she says that might be her next step, and it all goes back to her initial desire to help people.
“How we deal with clients that have been in car accidents, injured in slip and fall cases, or been bitten by a dog has made me realize we are changing people’s lives,” Schlotterbeck says. “Seeing how our clients — who are severely injured — feel such relief when we are able to get their medical bills covered is so rewarding. It’s really changed my perspective on wanting to be an attorney because we are really changing people’s lives and helping them in a time of need.”
Of course, Schlotterbeck’s favorite faculty member on the Hill might have had an influence on that desire, too.
“Kathi Hill is probably the biggest role model to ever exist in my life,” she says. “I still talk about her classes to this day. There were certain classes I took with her that she would just dive into thinking critically or thinking outside of the box, and I use that in my everyday life when a situation occurs. She’s an amazing professor and I learned so much from her. I absolutely took the most away from her classes.”
Major: Criminal Justice