Monday, March 4th, 2024
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Review Magazine

The ’Ville’s Lawyers & Judges

What can you do with a degree in Government, Policy, and Law from Millersville University? How about becoming a district attorney? A partner at a law firm? Or even a judge?

Graduates of Millersville University’s department have gone on to receive J.D.s and graduate degrees from top-ranked law schools, including Cornell University, Georgetown University, Harvard University and the London School of Economics. Others have used their research and analytical skills from the program for careers in education, politics and public service.

“While there is no single path to prepare students for a legal education or career in law or a law-related field, the bachelor’s in government with a concentration in pre-law firmly positions students to do so,” says Dr. Richard A. Glenn, professor and chair of Government, Policy, and Law. “The pre-law option is intended for students who are interested in the formal study of law, attending law school and pursuing a career in law.”

Here we meet some of the alums who have become or will become lawyers and judges.

HEATHER ADAMS ’94, DISTRICT ATTORNEY OF LANCASTER COUNTY

Heather Adams ’94

Heather Adams received her bachelor’s in political science from Millersville and went on to receive her J.D. from Widener University School of Law. One of her favorite memories is classes with Dr. Bookmiller, “whose love of teaching was evident in every class.”

What’s the most challenging and rewarding part of your job?

As an elected official and chief law enforcement officer for the county of Lancaster, it is rewarding to impact the broader goals of the criminal justice system and the administration of criminal justice here in Lancaster County. Implementing and supporting programs that impact public safety from many different angles is essential to addressing problems that lead to or result from criminal activity. It can be challenging to handle the varied responsibilities of this position: legal decisions, media inquiries and, as a trained lawyer, managing an 80-person office with different skill sets and responsibilities. However, I have a great team behind me!

What inspired you to work in this field, and why do you stay?

I knew that to be able to argue a case before a jury, I would need to have conviction in my position, and when starting my career, I identified strongly with the role of the prosecutor – that is, “to seek justice within the bounds of the law and not merely to convict.” I have always had great pride in this career and feel privileged to say, “I represent the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”

Advice for current students?

Make the most of your education, and challenge yourself while at MU. My class selection at MU thoroughly prepared me for the rigors of law school, and for that, I am very grateful.

ALYSON CROSE ’23, RECENT ALUM

Alyson Crose '23Alyson Crose graduated in May as a Government, Policy, and Law major, with a pre-law concentration and
a minor in English.

What’s next?

I plan on taking the next year to study for the LSAT and prepare my application materials to apply for law school for fall 2024. I recently accepted a job as a part-time bookseller at Bethany Beach Books, an independently owned bookstore in Bethany Beach, Delaware.

Favorite professor?

My favorite was Dr. Glenn. If I hadn’t taken his GOVT 412 class on a whim and discovered how much I enjoyed constitutional law, I’m not sure I would have met the friends I have today or realized my potential as a future law student. Dr. Glenn has supported me throughout the past three semesters and has pushed me to be a better student than I thought I could be.

In studying Government, Policy, and Law, one of the most challenging aspects has been learning to put aside my personal political beliefs to understand the perspectives of others.

I was inspired to switch my English major to Government, Policy, and Law after taking Dr. Glenn’s GOVT 412 class and learning about the Supreme Court cases shaping the fundamental rights and liberties we enjoy today. Particularly, I was inspired to learn more about women’s rights, which led to me doing an independent study on the evolution of women’s reproductive rights from Roe v. Wade (1973) to Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization (2022).

Advice for current students?

For students considering a major in Government, Policy, and Law, I would advise them to get to know all the amazing professors in the department at Millersville University. They are all there to help you in the best ways they can and have a genuine passion for what they do.

DANIEL T. DESMOND ’06, PARTNER AT BARLEY SNYDER IN LANCASTER

Daniel T. Desmond ’06

Daniel Desmond, a Lancaster native who went to J. P. McCaskey, received his bachelor’s in government and political affairs from Millersville and his J.D. from Temple. He’s married to Amy Desmond ’07, and they have two daughters. As a partner at Barley Snyder, Desmond specializes in business and municipal law.

Favorite memory and/or professor at Millersville?

Dr. Glenn was my favorite professor. One memory that sticks with me is that I came to Millersville as a transfer student from a much different school and major, and I wasn’t sure what to do after college, but his classes made me want to go to law school and pursue the career I am in today. Something clicked with me there, and I am glad I followed my intuition.

What’s the most challenging and rewarding part of your job?

I find that in most things I do, the challenge is the reward. As an attorney, you’re a problem solver first and foremost. It’s a rewarding feeling when you’ve helped solve a complicated situation or helped put together a deal with many obstacles.

What inspired you to work in this field, and why do you stay?

Dr. Glenn and the government department certainly get credit for getting me to law school, but the Barley Snyder attorneys I worked with when I graduated from law school are what made me decide to be a business attorney and focus on that area of law. They do great work and are people with meaningful lives outside of work. I stay because I get to work on matters that contribute to my community and hometown positively, and I’m able to provide a good life for my family.

Advice for current students?

Take the time to make lasting relationships with your friends and professors in college. They are your future coworkers, clients, neighbors, groomsmen, bridesmaids and, in my case, one turned out to be my wife. Academics should come first, but don’t forget to have a social life. Your social skills will often take you as far in life as your professional ones.

TASHA R. STOLTZFUS NANKERVILLE ’14, CIVIL LITIGATION ATTORNEY, BARLEY SNYDER

Tasha R. Stoltzfus Nankerville ’14

Tasha Stoltzfus Nankerville graduated magna cum laude from Millersville, majoring in government and political affairs with a minor in theater. She received her law degree from Villanova University.

Favorite memory and/or professor at Millersville?

My favorite professor is easy: Dr. Richard Glenn. I took all the courses he offered. His classes challenged me more than any others, and I thrived on that challenge. I felt my brain growing and connecting concepts in a way it never had before. My favorite memory was being a part of the All Campus Musical Organization stage production of “Legally Blonde – The Musical.” I relished working tirelessly with other students to stage the production (completely student-run) and having a nonacademic creative outlet!”

What’s the most challenging and rewarding part of your job?

I’ve been working as an attorney for less than a year, so I don’t yet know all the challenges or rewards of this profession. Nevertheless, currently, the most challenging part of the job is that every day I am forced to learn something new. For certain legal matters, there is a clear path for moving forward. For many other legal matters, there is no such path. I’ve also had the opportunity to do pro bono (volunteer) legal work for individuals who are undocumented victims of domestic violence, local nonprofits and incarcerated individuals. Providing legal services to individuals with barriers to access justice is the most rewarding part of being a lawyer.

What inspired you to work in this field, and why do you stay?

At a practical level, Dr. Glenn inspired me to be a lawyer. I had attended NYU as a theater major before transferring to Millersville and intended to pursue a career in the performing arts. Dr. Glenn never discouraged that dream but pulled me aside one day and indicated he thought I had the makings to be a really good lawyer. As a first-generation college student, I had never contemplated law school. I am so grateful Dr. Glenn planted that seed. It led to my working in my dream profession, a dream I didn’t even know I had, when he offered those words of encouragement. I stay because the work of equity and justice is never done, and I want to be a part of creating a world that continually seeks more equity and more justice.

Advice for current students?

Take the opportunities given to you, and be intentional with how you spend your time. You never know where an opportunity will lead. Take the opportunity to work and get practical experience. Apply yourself. Volunteer at an organization you’re passionate about. Your dream job probably won’t be the first one you get out of college, but search for an organization that aligns with your beliefs and goals. Give yourself time to figure out what you like and don’t like, what you’re good at and not good at, and what the world needs and doesn’t need. If you do so intentionally, your next steps will find you.

JENNIFER PONESSA ’08, ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY FOR LANCASTER

Jennifer Ponessa ’08

Jennifer Ponessa graduated from Millersville with a double major in political science and psychology and a criminology minor. Her law degree is from Widener University.

Favorite memory and/or professor at Millersville?

Dr. Richard Glenn was by far my favorite professor. Anyone with hopes to go to law school should take his classes. He uses the Socratic method, which prepared me, above everyone else, for law school. My favorite memory is when I got a 100% on one of his exams, and he said I was his only student ever to achieve that – and I believe that is still true to this day.

What’s the most challenging and rewarding part of your job?

The most challenging is the constant work and attention needed for every case. You’re in trial so much, there really isn’t much time for anything else, but you must also keep up with other work. It turns into a 24/7 job at times. However, the most rewarding part is making such a huge difference in the lives of victims seeking justice. What your hard work does and brings to these victims is priceless.

What inspired you to work in this field, and why do you stay?

I always wanted to be a trial attorney and thrive in the courtroom. I also did not want to be a defense attorney because of my morals. I love what I do for the victims of Lancaster County and bringing them the justice that some have waited years for.

Advice for current students?

Nothing can replace hard work. To achieve your goals, you have to be willing to put in the work and make it happen.

JODIE RICHARDSON ’16, MAGISTERIAL DISTRICT JUDGE, THE UNIFIED JUDICIAL SYSTEM OF PENNSYLVANIA

Jodie Richardson ’16

Jodie Richardson graduated from Millersville with a bachelor’s in sociology/criminology. She went on to receive her Minor Judiciary Education Board – Magisterial District Judge Training and Certification and Continuing Legal Education.

Favorite memory and/or professor at Millersville?

I am thankful for my amazing relationships with students, staff, faculty and outside constituents over the years. I am also grateful for those who encouraged and supported me through my dual roles as an employee and college student. The interactions, experiences and opportunities gained at Millersville greatly impacted my life and successes. My graduation day at Millersville still resonates with surreal emotions for me. Spending 23 years at Millersville has been a life blessing.

What’s the most challenging and rewarding part of your job?

Serving as a Magisterial District Judge is both vigorous and rewarding. Judges must uphold and apply the law and perform all duties of the judicial office fairly and impartially. We make important and difficult decisions on a daily basis that impact the lives of individuals before us, as well as their loved ones. I do not take this position lightly. I uphold the duties of the judiciary with dignity, respect, integrity, and impartiality to all who
come before me.

I eagerly seek to educate residents on the judicial process, policies, laws, and local ordinances to ensure understanding and gain cooperation and compliance. When necessary and appropriate, I offer specialized programs and services to individuals needing assistance in making better decisions and healthier choices. Through my employment and community involvement, I diligently work to contribute to a safe, strong and vibrant neighborhood for my district and city, one where residents feel a sense of belonging and acceptance.

What inspired you to work in this field, and why do you stay?

I did not aspire to become a judge. I landed in this career due to the community leaders and residents asking that I consider running for the then-vacant magisterial district judge seat in my district.

Advice for current students?

Whatever you aspire to do or become, give it your all and do so wholeheartedly. If you find yourself on a path other than what may appear to be the norm, that is okay; never give up. Seek mentors and other sources of help and guidance. Despite any obstacles or hardships, persevere in reaching your dreams/goals. The most treasured reward will come from being resilient and persevering through your struggles. Always allow yourself gratitude in life.

CODY WADE ’13, FIRST DEPUTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY FOR LANCASTER COUNTY

Cody Wade majored in government and political affairs and philosophy at Millersville and received his law degree from Villanova University.

Favorite memory and/or professor at Millersville?

My favorite professor was Ralph “Doc Roc” Anttonen, who sadly passed away last year. I was a radio DJ at WIXQ 91.7, and he was the faculty advisor for the station. He inspired countless students to question everything and fight for what you believe in.

What’s the most challenging and rewarding part of your job?

Jury trials will always be my favorite part of the job. They are a roller coaster of emotions and put all of your advocacy skills and legal training on display. However, as first deputy, I take great pride in seeing the other attorneys in my office develop their litigation skills and achieve justice.

What inspired you to work in this field, and why do you stay?

I always wanted to help people – so when the stacks of files look like skyscrapers and the to-do list stretches to infinity – I remember that I work for over half a million Lancastrians, and they deserve someone who puts their whole heart into this job. Justice is its own reward.

Advice for current students?

Joining WIXQ was transformative for me, even though it had nothing to do with my major. Chase your passion, find others who share it, and you’ll learn more than you ever could in a classroom.

Millersville’s Department of Government, Policy, and Law offers three majors: a bachelor’s in Government, Policy, and Law; a bachelor’s in Government, Policy, and Law with a concentration in Pre-Law; and a bachelor’s in Secondary Education.

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