Interview with Erin Moriarty – Loyola University Chicago’s Associate Vice President invites voices to its platform by sharing their opinion that matters most. Opinion expressed by VIP contributors don't reflect the opinion of Vizaca or its employees.

Erin Moriarty

Erin Moriarty, Loyola University Chicago’s Associate Vice President and Dean of Undergraduate Admissions, has been working in higher education for over 20 years. Previously, she worked as Loyola University’s Associate Director until 2013 and as the Assistant Director of Alumni Relations at Creighton University from 1999 to 2001. Erin Moriarty is immensely passionate about furthering student development. She believes every student has a niche, and as the Dean of Undergraduate Admissions, she works hard to help them find theirs.

Erin Moriarty originally graduated from Creighton University with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science. She then went on to receive a Masters in Global Strategic Communication and Business Administration from Loyola. She is a strong believer in the Jesuit institution and works hard every day to create a diverse community seeking God in all things and to expand knowledge in the service of humanity.

As a cancer survivor, Erin Moriarty is passionate about supporting organizations that fight against the disease. As a participant in Pedal the Cause, Erin Moriarty biked to raise awareness and help fund cancer research. After work, Erin Moriarty can often be found enjoying the sights and sounds of the city of Chicago. She enjoys biking along the shores of Lake Michigan, visiting local museums, attending concerts, hiking or skiing nearby, and spending time with family and friends.

Tell us about yourself.

I grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, and have four older sisters. My father earned his Ph.D. in Economics and book-ended his banking career as a college professor. My mother was a social worker who worked with oncology and dialysis patients. Our parents raised us to be independent women, each of us taking a different path. My path led me to a career in higher education. I attended Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, and graduated with a degree in Environmental Science. Life many, I thought I was going to be a doctor until I took organic chemistry. I switched to environmental science, which seemed like a natural fit for an outdoors girl like me. I really loved my major and would do it all over again.

I am a breast cancer survivor, diagnosed at the age of 42 with no family history of breast cancer. Going through treatments and experiencing such genuine care from all of my doctors and nurses reminded me to cherish each moment because life can change in an instant. I wasn’t always good at finding balance in my life. I actually really like my job, and that occupied a lot of my time. Since my cancer diagnosis, I have been able to better balance my life, and I am grateful for that.

Tell us how you got your start.

I wanted to attend a Jesuit institution – a close family friend was a Jesuit who would talk about social justice and making a difference in the world. Because of him, I focused on Jesuit colleges. The minute I stepped on Creighton’s campus for a visit my junior year in high school, I knew it was the right college for me. During my time there, I became involved on campus as a resident advisor and in student government and really embraced my college experience. When I graduated, I saw a job posting for an admission counselor position, and I thought what better way to give back to my school than to recruit for it. And, as they say, the rest is history. I worked in Creighton’s Admission Office and then the Alumni Relations Office before making my way to Chicago to work for Loyola University Chicago to come back to Admissions. I found my passion lies in helping students during their college search because my own college experience was transformative to who I am today, and I want others to have that experience, too.

What makes you different from other professionals in your field?

My experience in the Alumni Relations Office opened my eyes to how important the total experience is for an individual and to do the best to create great customer service for each student. Each student is unique, and their experience is unique, and I hope that through their interactions with myself and my team, they can leave with a positive impression — regardless of their final college decision.

What was the most important part of your professional journey?

Always keeping an open mind and being a constant learner, both in the classroom and in life. I have had great mentors, and especially when I was younger, I asked a lot of questions, trying to soak in as much as I could. I listened, watched, learned, and eventually adapted my own style as I grew into my profession. Thanks to those who took me under their wings and challenged me to think differently. Because through difficult times, they reminded me of one important thing in our profession: At the end of the day, we are here for the students and to make a difference, one student at a time.

What are the best and worst purchases you’ve ever made?

My best purchase was my Creighton education. Still adding value all these years later.  My worst purchase has to be the iPod shuffle. I was so excited to purchase it when it first came out, but it was tiny, so I kept losing it. Needless to say, it didn’t get used much.

What takes up too much of your time?

Talking to my siblings. I’m fortunate to be close to my parents and sisters, but everyone likes to talk. Some nights it’s like the telephone game, literally. This may shock those who know me, but I am not the talker in my family. A small silver lining of the pandemic – virtual happy hours with my sisters. Why didn’t we think of that before!

I also tend to spend too much time checking email on my phone — an annoying habit.

What three pieces of advice would you give to high school students as they consider applying for college?

That it is okay not to know what you want to do as you look to your future. There are endless possibilities, and college will help you explore your interests and find new passions, opening doors you may not have known existed for you.

Ask questions. The more questions you ask, the more you will learn. Your college decision is a big decision, but there is help. You don’t have to go it alone. Whether you have your family, friends, teachers, guidance counselors, or the college admission team, remember that we are here to help, so don’t be afraid to ask one question, and if it leads to twenty questions, that is perfectly okay.

Try not to stress or worry. It will all be okay. Life can be stressful with ups and downs and uncertainties during the college application process. It may not feel like it when you are in the moment, but it will be okay, so do not be hard on yourself or set unrealistic expectations — try to take it day by day. And, when you are overwhelmed, ask for help.

Who has impressed you the most with what they’ve accomplished?

My grandfather, JJ. He only had an 8th-grade education. His parents died when he was 13. He was at the cemetery and didn’t have a place to go until a relative asked him where he was going to spend the night. His grit, determination, and quick wit led him to find opportunities, and when there weren’t any, to create them. Eventually, he started his own business. He was a successful entrepreneur who was active in his parish and a leader in his community, always finding ways to give back to society and those in need. What he accomplished and how he led his life are reminders to me of the importance of supporting others and giving back to your community.

What drives you to keep going when it’s really tough?

My faith. I find inner strength and peace during difficult times, and I try to quiet my mind and put all the noise of life behind me so I can focus on whatever is in front of me at the time.

How should people connect with you?

My LinkedIn profile.