Major: Psychology • Class: 2014 • Hometown: Glenview, Ill.
Tracey Riley has done a little bit of everything at Loyola.
She’s volunteered at two homeless shelters, gone on three alternative break immersion trips, and presented numerous research studies at psychological conferences all over the country—all while maintaining a GPA that earned her a spot in the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa honors society.
Here, she talks about her mentor, how working in a lab has prepared her for graduate school, and why coming to Loyola was the best decision she’s ever made.
What’s your favorite Loyola memory?
I’d have to say it was when I got the call from the graduate student I work under that our manuscript was accepted for publication. I’m hoping that will be the first of many manuscripts that I get published.
Talk a little about a professor or mentor who inspired you.
Professor Scott Leon is my mentor for my honors thesis. He has been such an inspiration to me, and he has given me so many opportunities to grow as a researcher. Under his mentorship, I have taught two days of a summer psychology course, taken data from his lab to present in Washington D.C., and gotten all the guidance I need to write my thesis. He has helped me grow professionally and personally. Loyola would not be the same without him.
Tell us about your research: what it is, how you got involved, and what you hope to accomplish with it.
I have been working in research labs at Loyola since the beginning of my sophomore year. Gender and LGBT research are my favorite subjects, although I also have enjoyed studying implicit social cognition with Professor Leon. I got involved with research because I want to be fully prepared for graduate school. The more I conduct research and present my findings, the more I love it.
How has your involvement in student organizations or service work helped shape you as a person?
I’ve been involved in several volunteer opportunities at Loyola, especially during my freshman year when I worked at two homeless shelters. Since then, I have done less volunteering, but more social justice work through the Student Leadership Department and Campus Ministry. My most influential experiences are the alternative break immersions I took to El Salvador and Jamaica. I’m also leading a trip to Guatemala in May.
What do you think differentiates Loyola from other universities?
Loyola focuses on the holistic growth of its students. I truly believe that every class is oriented toward self-growth and helping us better understand the world around us and how we fit into it. I have always felt like Loyola advocates for students above all else. If I have a passion or idea, I know that there are staff, professors, or administrators who want to make it happen for me. Going to Loyola was the best decision of my life so far.
And finally, what do you hope to be doing 10 years from now?
I hope that in 10 years I am applying my research to help others as a psychotherapist. I should be done with graduate school by then and potentially working in a hospital setting doing clinical work. And I’d love to be doing it all in Chicago!
About the weekend
Five years ago, when Loyola celebrated its first Weekend of Excellence, hundreds of students took part in the three-day event. This year, more than 1,000 students will be featured—and the event will run for four days.
It’s a testament to how far the weekend has come in such a short time.
Created as a way to honor and celebrate student achievements, the Weekend of Excellence showcases the academic, civic, and extracurricular work that Loyola students have conducted over the past year. This year’s weekend, which runs from April 16–19, will include presentations and performances, as well as student award ceremonies and induction into the Maroon & Gold Society.
To accommodate the growing number of participants—and to focus more attention on their work—the undergraduate and graduate research symposiums are now held in two different locations on Saturday, April 18. The Graduate School symposium is in the Quinlan Life Sciences building and Palm Court; the undergraduate symposium is in the Mundelein Center and Galvin Auditorium.