Samantha Verlinden: 2023 Outstanding Senior

May 10, 2023

Samantha Verlinden has been named the 2023 Criminal Justice Outstanding Senior in recognition of her academic achievements, involvement in student groups, and professional development activities while a student at MSU.


Photo of Samantha VerlindenWhat interested you in studying criminal justice?

All my life I've felt drawn towards ensuring fairness and justice. Growing up, I loved the idea of doing my part, whatever it may be, to help all those victimized and negatively impacted by crime. So, when it came time to pick a major, it became very clear to me that I wanted to pursue a degree in Criminal Justice. 


What else are you studying in addition to Criminal Justice? Have you participated in any extracurricular activities as an undergrad?

I have an additional major in Psychology, and a minor in Cognitive Science. I have completed two investigative internships over my time at MSU, one at the USDA - Office of the Inspector General, and one at the Michigan Attorney General's Office - Criminal Investigation Division. I also have been a member of Alpha Phi Sigma - the National Criminal Justice Honors Society, as well as the Criminal Psychology Club, the Psychology Club, and the Cold Case Unit club here at MSU. Outside of MSU, for two years, I was a member of Cap City 2, an indoor percussion marching arts organization based in Ohio.


How does it feel to receive the Outstanding Senior Award?

It feels unreal to win this award. I never thought that I would be considered for this, but I am so incredibly grateful. I know I would not be where I am today, much less receiving this award, if it wasn't for the support from my family, friends, and the faculty here at MSU. 


How has the School of Criminal Justice helped you?

The School of Criminal Justice has helped me a great deal throughout my undergraduate education. They've given many opportunities to explore and learn about different career paths, which has assisted me in figuring out what I want to do after graduation. They've also exposed me to many different perspectives and opportunities to learn and grow as an individual. I'm very thankful for everything the School of Criminal Justice has done for my peers and I.


Do you have any recommendations for current or prospective students?

My best piece of advice for current/prospective students, is to not be afraid to try new things over the course of your time at MSU. Although it may be uncomfortable to go to a club by yourself for the first time, or sit in front of an interview panel for a job, these experiences end up building your confidence and prepare you for the rest of your life.