From STU to the Ivy League: Ashley Riley accepted to Master’s program at Dartmouth


Ashley Riley is exchanging the green of St. Thomas University for the green of Dartmouth College.


The Northfield, New Hampshire native has been accepted to the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program at the Ivy League university and will begin her studies this fall.


Riley, who completed an honours in Great Books and a major in History, was drawn to the graduate program because of its interdisciplinary focus—something she’s come to value through her time at St. Thomas.


“I was nervous about grad school because that’s when everyone said you have to specialize and focus on one subject,” she said.


“My degree is very unique because I was able to study four different disciplines. When it came time to decide on one specialization, I was relieved to find a program that valued the interdisciplinary experience, as I couldn’t see myself choosing just one to pursue.”


The option to take courses from multiple fields was something Riley wasn’t expecting when she arrived on campus in 2015, but it provided opportunities for personal and academic growth.


“I had the chance to take Italian, which led to a travel-study opportunity. I took Anthropology, which linked well with History, and I took Environmental Science, which changed my perspective in other subjects,” she said.


“Everyone at STU has such a different story and I’m amazed at the paths my classmates are taking now. There are so many unique academic combinations that help you get where you want to go.”


The support from the campus community also played an important role in preparing Riley for post-graduate studies. International admissions counsellors Kaylee Moore and Camila Vásquez, and Writing Centre coordinator Heather MacDonald stand out for the soon to be grad as she worked closely with each of them throughout her degree.


She also credits the encouragement and guidance of her professors for helping her discover her path.


“Dr. Matt Dinan, Dr. Andrew Moore, Dr. Brad Cross, and Dr. Carey Watt—those four were there for me the most and I really appreciate them,” she said. “They really helped sculpt my path for where I want to go next.”


With Spring Convocation fast approaching, Riley is excited to begin the next chapter at Dartmouth but sad to leave the STU community behind.


“This is where I figured out who I am, what my beliefs are, what I want out of life, and where I want to go next,” she said.


“I’m really thankful for everything the university has given me. I made friends that will last a lifetime, worked with professors that will be mentors for a lifetime, and got everything out of my four years here that I possibly could have."