NU Commencement | The Graduates: Samantha Thornton ’16

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Samantha Thornton ’16

Hometown: Key West, Fla.
Major: Criminal Justice
Student Path: Corps of Cadets

  • Women’s Rugby (first-year)
  • Boxing (sophomore, junior)
  • Athena Society
  • Criminal Justice Student Association
  • Undergraduate Research


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What Norwich Taught Me

“I think I learned here that you can accomplish anything—really, honestly—anything put before you. It’s a mindset. Whatever anyone throws at you, you can most certainly do. You just have to tell yourself that you can, and it will be accomplished. I don’t think there’s anything harder than Norwich University. I definitely would say that I learned a lot about myself here.”[/content_band]

Samantha Thornton discovered her professional passion at Norwich. A self-described military brat who grew up along the Gulf Coast, Thornton served as a 1st lieutenant in the Corps of Cadets and majored in criminal justice. She was the first person in her family to graduate from college. As an undergraduate, Thornton undertook numerous research projects at Norwich. One focused on the work of criminal justice scholar Michael Sandel, surveying 2,000 participants to analyze and categorize their views about crime and punishment. “It was an open ended question of how people perceive justice or how people would define justice.”

Thornton is most proud of her work with the Community Against Sexual Aggression (CASA), a student-led group she co-founded with her friend and fellow senior Kelley Lebrecht ’16. The organization worked to raise awareness of sexual violence and prevent sexual assaults on campus. Today it is known as VIPA, or Violence Intervention Peer Advocates. “We’re not the only college campus that has these problems,” says the former homecoming queen. “But we’re one of the very few campuses [that has] something in place just in case something does.”

Thornton will begin an online master’s of science degree program in victims service management at Sam Houston State University in the fall. “I absolutely love helping people in any way that I possibly can.” She hopes to be working 10-20 years from now for the Department of Homeland Security on human sex trafficking. “I would love to work for any federal department and work with victims, whether it’s finding them or helping them to recover along the way.”