Meet 2022 Grad: Riley Tyler

Riley Tyler

“Even though there is a lot going on in the world, I was able to advance my career and still help serve the OCC community. College gave me something to focus on during the pandemic and a sense of direction. In the past, there were times I would get frustrated with a class I was not interested in...I would want to drop and give up. At OCC, I learned to keep pushing through.” - Riley Tyler

Major: Associate in Applied Science - Mental Health/Social Work 
Student Involvement/Honors: President Phi Theta Kappa Auburn Hills Chapter, President The Student Alliance for Helping Professionals; Dean’s List

Q: During your time at OCC have any of your goals or plans changed?
A: I always wanted to be in social work. Through my ‘Group Dynamics and Theory’ and ‘Human Development Throughout the Life Span’ classes, I now know I want to pursue group therapy and work with LBGQ+ individuals. 

Q: What were your biggest accomplishments? 
A: Becoming President of the PTK Auburn Hills Chapter and The Student Alliance for Helping Professionals; being an honor student; and making the Dean’s List are things I never expected. I didn’t have a good GPA in high school and to come to OCC and achieve the highest GPA I’ve ever had, that’s a huge achievement of mine. 

Q: What does this milestone (graduation day) mean to you? 
A: I have bipolar disorder and started showing symptoms during my first time going to college. I had severe mood swings, was not able to pay attention, and I had to drop out. I got treatment and decided to go into social work. I want to help people who struggle like I have. I’ve gone from not functioning in class and failing, to being way more successful than I ever thought possible. 

Q: What kind of support have you received from faculty? 
A: My professors and Johnna Balk, Faculty Librarian at Auburn Hills and PTK Advisor, have been an awesome source of support for me. I could go to Johanna for anything, whether it be academic or personal. She is kind of like a cheerleader – every time I achieved something, she was on the sideline pushing me forward and supporting me. 

Q: What are the next steps for you after leaving OCC? 
A: I plan to attend either Wayne State University or Oakland University. I would eventually like to pursue a master’s degree in social work. 

Q: What would you like to say to current and incoming students? 
A: Be involved in Student Life, even if you don’t have much time. Meet other students and help with projects. In the long run, it’s more meaningful. When you work with people in Student Life, they are probably people who you will stay in touch with for many, many years.