Natalie Niskanen

Junior Natalie Niskanen is a psychology major at Loyola with a minor in the psychology of crime and justice. Her dream is to someday be able to help children who have suffered from abuse or neglect. Niskanen has taken organ lessons for two years at Loyola and can be seen on campus in Madonna della Strada playing the organ for Mass. She also has a passion for learning other languages and has dabbled in Italian, French, and Russian and has been studying Spanish literature.

Why did you choose your major and your minor?

I chose my major [because of] my cousin’s experience, abuse at the hands of her father, and that was something very close to home so that kind of inspired me to learn more about the field of psychology. And so that’s really my goal… I’m very interested in child psychology and how you can help children who have been abused or neglected and help them to have healthy development.

What’s the most fulfilling thing about working with children?

I love having a relationship with them and having fun and watching them grow. And I work with autistic children and it’s just really great to see their progress and how I’ve helped affect their lives. I’m so satisfied that they’re happy. I love kids. I want to work with children whenever I can.

How did you get started playing the organ at Loyola?

I took piano lessons when I was younger for 12 years and actually my dad was really interested in organ music. When we were kids he used to play organ music in our house. And I play for church services at home and I thought, hey, I should take advantage of it and it would be a really fun and interesting thing to do.

Do you have any advice or wisdom to share with other students to encourage them to find a way to serve their community?

I would say that they should just find something that they’re passionate about. Loyola has all kinds of opportunities and all kinds of missions. They have all kinds of different ways that you can help people. And you should take advantage of all those opportunities and you just need to get out there.

Do you have anything you consider to be your most rewarding experience as an undergraduate?

I think one of the greatest things I’ve been able to do—that is kind of an accumulation of all the things I’ve been involved with—was I took a graduate seminar focusing on infant cognition. That was a coming together of all my previous hard work. It brought together all of my interests and created this really great opportunity and experience.

Where do you see yourself in the future?

I have to see what’s out there for me, but I definitely want to work with children. I’m thinking about one possibility. My minor is in the psychology of criminal justice, so [I’d like to] help represent children in court or be a psychopathologist. I’ll definitely be going to graduate school after working in the field for a few years, so that’s in my future.