Riley McCoy outside on Palm walk
1. Major(s)/minor(s)?

Political Science and Economics

2. Department and/or university awards/honors?

Political Science Program Scholar; Outstanding Scholar - Economics Department

3. Why did you decide to major in political science (or international relations) at LMU?

I’ve always known that I wanted to pursue a career in public service and choose a major that allows me to serve my community. The Political Science major provides a pathway to learn about affecting change through government, advocacy, and policy. Furthermore, the Jesuit identity of LMU entails that all majors educate the whole person and incorporate a call to action. The Political Science program at LMU provided a perfect cross between a well-rounded education and an incorporation of service.

4. If you have another major or minor(s), how does it complement your work in political science (or international relations)?

I also pursued a second major in Economics because I am interested in a career in public policy. The economic impacts of different policy solutions are often important in finding and deciding on the best path moving forward. My economics degree provided me with a strong quantitative background and understanding of how multifaceted policy solutions can be. My two majors perfectly complemented each other and prepared me for a career in public policy!

5. What are your post-grad plans? How did the program and/or your liberal arts education prepare you?

This summer I am interning with the Bay Area Research Council as a Summer Research Associate in their Economic Institute. The Bay Area Research Council is a leading think tank on economic and policy issues within the Bay Area. The research I am doing this summer will impact the future policy decisions made in the Bay Area. Following this internship, I will move to Sacramento and work with the Capitol Advisors organization. The Capitol Advisors work closely with California public education and legislative strategy. I am excited to gain more experience in policy work and research over the upcoming year!

6. Did you have any transformative educations experiences while at LMU? (e.g. research with faculty, global immersion, internship, learning community, etc.)

My first research experience was in the Summer Undergraduate Research Program with Dr. Richard Fox following the end of my freshman year. This was my first experience working one on one with a Political Science on a project that I created myself. The project was challenging but through Dr. Fox’s mentorship I learned that I was more than capable of conducting research. My first experience set me on a path of research throughout my whole undergraduate career and now my first job post-graduation is also a research opportunity!

7. Did you have a favorite class or faculty mentor?

One of the most personally impactful faculty was Dr. Andrew Dilts, my thesis mentor. I’ve taken multiple classes with them and was always impressed with how challenging and thought provoking their courses were. Dr. Dilts also taught my favorite Political Science course entitled Transformative Justice! In this course we read new works from Political Science Scholars and then hosted a Q&A with them. It was a unique course that allowed me to meet a lot of interesting and intelligent Political Scientists. My senior year Dr. Dilts and I worked together on my thesis project research disciplinary education policy and creating a theoretical framework of analysis. Dr. Dilts believed in me and my experience in the department was forever shaped by their mentorship!

8. What is your biggest piece of advice for future/current political science (or international relations) majors?

The Political Science and International Relations department provides a lot of interdisciplinary courses that cover a wide range of topics. I always recommend taking classes outside of your immediate interests and pushing yourself outside of your academic comfort zone. The field of Political Science and International Relations is diverse, deep, and full of surprises! You never know what will interest you and it is never bad to expand your academic horizons!