Senior Spotlight: Bria Riley, Class of 2021

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“Enlightening.”

This is one word senior Bria Riley uses to describe her time at Rowan University. 

With her four years at Rowan University coming to a close, Riley reflected on her time at the university. Riley is a senior world religions and psychology major with a minor in women and gender studies. She is a substitute teacher in her local school district and a volunteer at her spiritual center. She’s also a first-generation college student, hoping to inspire others to keep pushing and never give up on themselves.

Riley figured that living in Gloucester County and attending Rowan University would be a convenient commute, and save her a ton of money.

Although convenience is a nice touch when choosing which college to attend, Rowan stuck out to her because of the large variety of majors.

Riley knew from the start that she wanted to be a psychology major. However, when she got to Rowan, she found another passion in world religions.

“I fell in love with the subject in high school, and I saw myself going into some type of helping profession at that point,” Riley said. “However, in college, I became very non-traditionally religious [and] spiritual and started learning about the many paths to spirituality.”

Riley also added a minor in women and gender studies, because she considers herself a feminist and thought studying the topic would be fun.

Although already a well-rounded Prof, something people might not know about her is that she self-published her book called “The Art of a Healing Soul: Expressions of My Lessons in this Earth School So Far” and has a spiritual self-help blog.

Riley attributes her inspiration to Dr. Whitney Cox, world religions lecturer. Cox’s teaching style is something that Riley grasps on to, and she believes that Cox is a “uniquely awesome person.”

“She always makes the class entertaining and [she] really cares about her students. She can make learning about some of the most boring topics in religion fun,” Riley said.

One of Riley’s best memories while attending Rowan includes a class she took called “Women and Gender in Perspective.” The students’ passion for learning about the subject made Riley’s experience unforgettable. Her class also had a final project where they created a diorama based on one of the readings they had and presented it to the class. Because the presentations were virtual, Riley never expected a project like this — but she enjoyed it.

Like all Rowan students, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone in some way. Her experience helped her navigate through negative situations and learn what works best for her. 

“[The pandemic] has made me a better student because it has taught me to better manage my time,” Riley said. “Being online and having so much flexible time and free reign to work ahead taught me that knowing my limits and practicing self-care is necessary when it comes to school work.”

Upon graduation, Riley is most excited for her career to begin. She will continue her education and obtain her master’s degree online at Arizona State University. She is motivated to live on her own, preferably along the shore.

Riley wants to tell Rowan University freshmen to “Keep an open mind because you never know what you will discover about yourself or the world through a class.” Riley said, “If you take the time to listen with an open mind, you will learn about other people’s diverse human experiences.”

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