Criminal Justice Major, Spanish Minor
Child Welfare Certificate
Crime and Community Mapping Certificate
Crime Mapping Assistant
Criminal Justice Club President
Class of 2021
In class, Victoria Kohn ’21, a criminal justice major and Spanish minor, focused on learning everything she could about criminal justice from crime mapping to understanding the judicial system. Outside the classroom, she was determined to make a difference serving as president of the Criminal Justice Club and getting practical experience for a future career in juvenile justice and probation.
A course on juvenile justice taught by Paul Werrell, instructor of criminal justice, exposed Victoria to issues most often debated by criminal justice advocates and opponents and taught her to analyze both sides of an argument. It focused her interest in the rehabilitative nature of juvenile justice and empowered her to take action in her community.
“I want to help kids get back on the right track to being positive members in society and our community,” says Victoria, who spent most of her free time with an organization helping local youth do just that.
Throughout her time at Cedar Crest, Victoria worked with the IMPACT Project, a children and youth agency located in Emmaus, PA—serving as a volunteer and later as an intern for the organization. She was also the campus representative for their mentoring program, the Collegiate Enrichment Program, which partners with Cedar Crest’s Lutz Center for Community Service, until it was put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Her senior year, Victoria was an intern at the IMPACT Project, getting real-world practice and increasing her understanding of the foster care system. She even took on some case manager responsibilities by supervising her own foster homes and kids. Victoria also participated in the IMPACT Project’s Community Justice Panels, which she had volunteered for since her sophomore year.
The IMPACT Project’s community justice panel diversion program is held in locations across the Lehigh Valley including on Cedar Crest College’s campus and downtown Allentown. The panels are coordinated by Werrell, a former chief juvenile probation officer, and volunteers like Victoria make up the review panel.
“These are real people and real-life cases I work with. It is not just reading the cases like you do in class,” says Victoria. Her coursework laid the foundation of her knowledge and skills, and now she is getting real experience.
Volunteers are trained by The IMPACT Project to uphold balanced and restorative justice principles. Instead of going to court, first-time, juvenile offenders charged with summary and misdemeanor offenses and their families meet with Victoria and other panel members. They discuss everything from the crime to school and issues at home. As a panel member, Victoria works to determine a contract of goals for the youth to complete and serves as a monitor through the process. If the contract is completed the youth is not formally judged, and fines are dismissed. If the contract is not completed, then the panel refers the youth to the traditional court system.
According to Victoria, the program’s effect is significant. “We are making a difference by alleviating resources for courts and officers and making a difference for these kids,” she says.
At the end of her senior year, Victoria presented her Honors Capstone Project, “Breaking the Stereotypes of Female Domestic Disturbance Calls.” Her project used the crime analysis program, ArcPRO to investigate how geography intersects with female domestic disturbance calls in Abington Township, PA. Based on the findings from her geographic investigation, Victoria then discussed and suggested prevention programs for these calls.
After graduation, Victoria plans to start a career working with at-risk or adjudicated youth and utilize her criminal justice and juvenile studies background.