Undergraduate Admission Blog

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May 18, 2017

The Trojan Family: Parent Engagement with Maria Riley

It’s a conflicted feeling. The culmination of years of patience and support, a parent’s daughter or son has achieved the remarkable feat of being accepted to college. Pride radiates in heavy doses as they glow with the knowledge that their child is on track to follow their dreams and take the next steps toward adulthood! But, while the prospect of one’s child attaining self-sufficiency (along with the maturity to finally do their own darn laundry) is surely a nice one, the thought of losing touch with their world can be devastating. At USC, however, we understand that releasing the reins is no easy task – that’s where Maria Riley comes in.

USC Parent and Family Engagement serves to help parents remain connected to their child’s college experience, and Riley is the woman who puts it all into action. An alumnae herself, she understands the singular value of the USC community. “It’s a feeling of belonging,” Riley said, indulging me with some warm conversation during a brisk L.A. morning at USC’s Literatea café, “the Trojan Family is real!”

Generally defined as the collection of roughly 375,000 living alumni, the university’s staff and faculty, and all current students and their relatives, the Trojan Family exemplifies the supportive spirit for which USC is renowned. Riley’s work within USC Parent and Family Engagement facilitates this spirit by helping parents develop a strong connection to the Trojan Family. “Their son or daughter is going to have a special journey at USC,” she explained, “but I want to provide a path for parents to experience their own journey.”

That path often leads to Trojan Family Weekend, one of USC’s most celebrated on-campus traditions. This year, from October 12 to October 15, parents from around the world will descend upon Los Angeles to get a firsthand experience of the life of a USC student. Featuring over 100 unique programs, the weekend festivities will culminate with Saturday’s football showdown between the USC Trojans and the Utah Utes. Parents of all USC students, from newly-admitted freshman to transfers and graduate students, are encouraged to join. “It’s a great way to take your connection with USC to another level!” said Riley.

Riley, furthermore, spends a great deal of time working one-on-one with parents. “If any parent comes to me saying, ‘I want to be involved,’ I’ll have something great for them,” she said. There are countless opportunities for parents to volunteer for USC organizations, and these are often announced on USC’s social media pages created specifically for parents. Ranging from USC Parents Class of 2021 to USC NorCal Moms, if you’re a USC parent, there’s surely a Facebook group for you!

Finally, for those parents interested in providing their perspective toward the improvement of student life at USC, there’s the Parent Engagement Committee. This team of 25 USC parents and guardians provides valuable input to the division of Student Affairs to help students thrive. “Campus partners have been very receptive to the PEC’s viewpoint,” Riley said, “and have taken the group’s feedback about programming and services to heart.” USC Parent and Family Engagement strives to help parents support their child’s college experience, and this committee represents the importance of Riley’s role. “Family means something different to everybody,” she continued, “my goal is to help parents feel comfortable in knowing that their students are being taken care of here.”

Riley’s work within USC Parent and Family Engagement is crucial to the spirit of Trojan Family, and the parents she work with are acutely aware of that fact. Here are a few parent posts from the social media pages she oversees that were directed her way:

“I want to publicly thank Maria Riley for all she does for us. She works tirelessly to keep us informed and at peace. I see her post comments at midnight and 6am, way beyond normal working hours. You can see her dedication in every post.”

“Thank you Maria Riley from a Trojan family in River Forest, Illinois. You helped us feel part of the USC family, though far away.”

“It’s not easy to send a child so far away to school, but having a resource and support like this is comforting!! I check this page daily and have received helpful information more than once. Maria Riley has been such a lifesaver!”

The feeling, sappy though it may be, is very mutual. “I’m grateful that I have the opportunity to work with such an amazing group of parents,” Riley said. After enjoying some iced coffee and Trojan Family spirit with her during that brisk L.A. morning, I’m happy to say to Riley: the USC Office of Undergraduate Admission is grateful for you, too.

(Thank you for checking out my first piece on the Admission Blog, readers. The Trojan Family has played a massive role in my life, and I hope you will continue to join me as I examine it from various perspectives over the coming months. If you’d like to contact Maria Riley, click here.)