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Drew University Alum Discusses Criminal Justice Career
Katharine Dolin C’09 still uses lessons from her undergraduate classes, experiences
February 2022 – Katharine Dolin C’09 has used her Drew University degrees as a launchpad toward a career in criminal justice.
Dolin, who went to law school after majoring in psychology and Spanish and minoring in sociology at Drew, is now Director of the Missouri Attorney General’s Sexually Violent Predator Unit; Assistant Missouri Attorney General; and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney.
She spends the majority of her time on special prosecutions, assisting and standing in for local prosecutors, primarily in homicide, sex crime, and public corruption cases. She also supervises more than a dozen attorneys in civilly committing recidivist sex offenders; carries a caseload of habeas corpus cases involving the death penalty; and prosecutes gun and drug crimes around the city of St. Louis.
The trial of one of her more high-profile cases—a first-degree murder in Monroe County, MO—was made into the premier 2022 episode of ABC’s 20/20, which she is featured in, and was televised live on CourtTV.
Nearly a decade into her career, Dolin still uses lessons learned from her Drew undergraduate degrees.
“A large part of my practice involves mental health and abnormal psychology, violence against women and children, and the sociological and psychological implications of incarceration,” she said.
“As a prosecutor, it is vitally important to understand the mindset of both survivors and offenders, as well as the larger social costs and benefits of different types of punishments. I reflect often on my Engendering Prison and Gender, Violence, and Women’s Resistance classes with [professor and department chair of psychology] Jill Cermele and my many sociology classes with [professor of sociology] Caitlin Killian.”
What were some of her key takeaways from Drew’s liberal arts education?
“Although I’m sure parents would shudder to hear this, I’m not sure the most important thing about college is the formal education,” she said. “The social learning that comes from living and studying with people who are different from yourself in race, gender, sexuality, socioeconomic status, and culture is so fundamental to becoming a well-rounded adult. I was an only child and had never lived with a peer until college. I learned so much about myself and how to relate to other people while at Drew.”
“You also learn how to think critically and see problems from different perspectives,” she added. “It’s a time to experiment with classes, clubs, and hobbies to see what really appeals to you, and might become a part of your life long term. Go take that film class. Try tennis. Go to New York City with those new folks down the hall.”
Who knows, it might even be the first step toward a career made for TV…