St. Louis blue

After completing her BA at Mercyhurst, Notre Dame alum sets out on a law enforcement career in Missouri.

Going to school where one of your parents work has its advantages and disadvantages, but it's probably a safe bet to say the plusses outnumber the minuses — though getting away with something while on campus without said parent finding out is probably rare. 

For 2013 Notre Dame alum Maddie Riley, however, whose dad, Peter Riley, is a well-respected, longtime social studies teacher in the upper division, just the opposite was true.

"One thing I'll always remember from attending school at NDP is how everyone was constantly telling me what my dad had done or said on any given day," she recalled during a recent interview. "It was a little crazy."

Now no longer her father's "overseer" on campus, Riley is looking to pursue a career that includes the oversight and care of her newly adopted hometown in Missouri. 

"I've decided to become a police officer because I've grown to love St. Louis and it's a way to help the people of the city and also be able to directly see the impact of my work," she said.

That help for the citizens of St. Louis will arrive after Riley completes a rather intense training regimen she's starting at the St. Louis Police Academy.

Steps in the right direction

"The kind of training I'll be going through to become a city police officer is going to be a mix of classroom learning, physical fitness, and time on the gun range," said Riley, who attended Mercyhurst University, a Catholic liberal arts college in Erie, Pennsylvania, where she received a BA degree in Intelligence Studies (with minors in history and Russian Studies). "The training will take place at the academy in St. Louis and if I pass all of the tests, after eight months I'll graduate and become a probationary police officer, which is the step just before becoming a full police officer."

It's still another step in what appears to be all the right steps Riley's been taking ahead of her chosen career. 

As an example, her degree at Mercyhurst looks like the perfect choice for a future in law enforcement. According to the university, a degree in intelligence studies is designed to prepare graduates who are skilled in among other things the collection, correlation and analysis of intelligence data for employers both in government and private sectors, especially those in law enforcement, national security, the military and business.

Seems like a perfect fit.

Riley also says her time at Notre Dame was another great step in her current career journey.

"Going to school at NDP meant taking those extra steps necessary to make sure I was fully prepared for college," said Riley, who also played tennis and was heavily involved with the Action for Africa club at Notre Dame. "I think the whole NDP experience definitely prepared me way more than how some of my Mercyhurst classmates were prepared for college-level courses."

Love of history

Riley said her favorite high school-level courses at Notre Dame included "every class I ever had with Ms. [Shari] Phillips” as well as Mr. [John] Smith's IB History (World War II) class and his Investigating History: Culture through Myth class. 

"Maddie was one of those students who really brought a passion to studying both WWII and mythology," Smith said. "Her love of history and of the sociological value of mythology was evidenced on a daily basis." 

That love of history also is something she likely picked up from her dad, according to Smith.

"Maddie really has a great relationship with her father, which is no doubt where her love of history was definitely fostered," Smith said. "She would often mention to me at school how much she loved discussing history and watching the History Channel with her father." 

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About Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy
Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. The school's upper division enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation's best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame's middle and lower divisions enroll students in jr. kindergarten through grade eight. All three divisions are International Baccalaureate "World Schools." NDPMA is conducted by the Marist Fathers and Brothers and is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy, visit the school's home page at