Riley Coleman wants to help struggling teens become their best selves
A second-year student in Linn-Benton Community College’s Human Services Program, Riley Coleman is on track to graduate this summer with her associate degree. She hopes to continue her education at Portland State University, where she will pursue a bachelor’s degree in social work.
“I’d like to study social work there so I can become a juvenile probation officer if all else goes to plan,” said Coleman.
Coleman, from Brownsville, Or., was a sophomore in high school when she met a juvenile probation officer during a career day held at her school.
“He described the things he did and I was like, wow, that’s really cool!” she said.
She forgot about the meeting until late in her junior year when she started thinking about what she was going to do after high school.
At the time, Coleman was involved in her church’s youth group, and she was volunteering as a middle school art class assistant. All around her, she witnessed the struggles of her friends and other people her age.
“All I wanted to do with my time was talk to them and help them and just do what I could,” she said. “I realized that’s something I want to do even past this age. I want to help struggling teens to grow and become their best selves.”
Coleman is on her way to a great start.
Since fall 2021, she has served as a student leader in both LBCC’s Office of Institutional Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, and the Change Makers co-curricular program.
One of just three student leaders in IEDI, Coleman and her colleagues meet for about five hours each week to work on programming. Last fall, they organized a Día de los Muertos program and a presentation about the global impacts of "fast fashion" for International Buy Nothing Day/Black Friday. (View parts one and two.)
In late January, the students led a program entitled Service Animals or Emotional Support Animals: What's the Difference? And in March, they gave a presentation on the Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women campaign via Zoom.
IEDI-sponsored events are promoted on LBLive, the college’s mobile app.
Change Makers comprises mostly Human Services students who identify needs of the student body, advocate for change, and then work to design sustainable and long-lasting solutions for the college community. Members gain professional work experience while collaborating on projects with peers who aim to make a difference on campus.
Coleman serves as its co-president.
“We’re trying to make positive changes in our lives and the lives of people on campus. We’re working on a self-care series now,” said Coleman.
The students are currently working on a grant request to fund the purchase of an app called Headspace which, through science-backed meditation and mindfulness tools, helps users change habits to support their mental health.
In the past, Change Makers has worked to raise awareness about domestic violence and how images of violence may affect survivors, helped with fundraisers for local non profits, and run a listening room to teach and practice how listening can help well being.
“Most of us in Changemakers are Human Services majors,” said Coleman. “What we choose to do with our time reflects what we would be expected to do in our careers … to help ourselves and each other.”
Sounds like it’s right up her alley.
Students interested in Change Makers may contact faculty advisor Liz Pearce