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Meet the Class of 2024: Quinn Riordan

Quinn Riordan, a senior majoring in international studies, has spent her entire undergraduate career at Saint Louis University’s campus in Madrid. While there, she formed close ties with her classmates from around the world, explored Europe and served others in the community.

As she prepares to graduate this spring, Riordan shares what inspired her to pursue her studies in Madrid and what she hopes to do next.

A photo of Quinn Riordan in her graduation robe and holding a bouquet of flowers at the SLU-Madrid Commencement.

Quinn Riordan earned her bachelor's degree in international studies from SLU-Madrid this spring.

Why did you decide to attend SLU-Madrid?

I’m from the suburbs of Chicago and lived there basically my whole life. SLU-Madrid seemed like such an amazing opportunity to explore the world and move somewhere completely outside of my comfort zone.

Was it a difficult transition?

I don't think it was that difficult. It's obviously hard to be far away from your family, but because everyone was in the same boat, we were able to form a very tight community. I've met so many cool people, and I think SLU-Madrid attracts people who are a lot more independent, adventurous and willing to put themselves out there.

You’re majoring in international studies, which is fitting. Why did you pick that major?

I originally came in as a political science major and switched to international studies because I wanted to take more environmental science courses. International studies allowed me to merge political science courses with more STEM-focused classes. I want to do something in environmental policy and it’s important to know the science behind it. 

Quinn Riordan and a classmate stand in front of a sign that reads Glaciar National Park in Spanish. A flagpole with the flag of Argentina is behind the sign.
Quinn Riordan, left, also studied abroad during her time at SLU. 

What got you interested in environmental studies?

My mom studied marine biology, so I’ve always been aware of environmental issues. I also did a lot of climate activism in high school. I took “Oceanography and Sustainable Development for Latin America,” and really loved it.

I did a project for the sustainable development course on marine reserves, which also connected to a trip we took to Cabo de Palos for the oceanography course. We learned about the benefits of marine reserves for not only biodiversity and the health of the ocean, but also economically for the fishermen and the region. It was cool how I was able to connect two different concepts from the two different classes. 

You’re also a very involved volunteer in Madrid. What do you do and what is it like serving in such a different environment?

I teach English to students from primary school to early high school. It was very nerve-wracking in the beginning, but they’ve been very sweet. A lot of them are from families that have immigrated to Spain from Latin America. It’s been really amazing getting to know and learn from them.

What do you plan to do after graduation?

I'm applying to a few different master's programs. My top would be a Johns Hopkins program in global security studies with an energy and environmental security concentration, which is really interesting. I'm looking at different programs in environmental policy, but I don't know if I necessarily want to go into government work. 

My dream job would be something that combines environmental policy work with multimedia journalism to provide education about climate change or environmental issues. That would be super cool.