A Day in the Life of Lia Wiley: the New and Kind Criminal Justice Junior


Bridget Reilly

Criminal justice senior Lia Wiley laughs at a comment made during the PRIDE meeting. March 5. Photo by Bridget Reilly

Lia Wiley, criminal justice senior, is a senator of PRIDE and a Panamanian-American who is the daughter of a Panamanian immigrant.

“I’m Panamanian, that’s it,” Wiley said. “That’s my whole background.”

As a Latina, Wiley said that she and her family have been subjected to xenophobic sentiment. However, Wiley said that she loves being Panamanian because she can visit Panama on her holiday breaks.

“A lot of times, people would not like it when I’m near my family when we’re speaking Spanish in public,” Wiley said. “They would harass us sometimes. There are some good things. I get to celebrate double holidays.”

Given Panama’s small population, Wiley said that the bests aspect about Panama is having a large family. She also said that she had met many people that she happen to be related to.

“No matter where go in Panama, there’s going to be someone that is a part of my family. So there are a lot of people that I hang out with there.”

Lia Wiley reading
Bridget Reilly
Criminal justice senior Lia Wiley reads a book in her apartment. March 5. Photo by Bridget Reilly

Like many students outside of the Texas Panhandle, Wiley said that she is from the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex.

“Right now, my parents live in Fort Worth,” Wiley said. “So it’s really close but far away enough that I can get some freedom from them.”

Wiley said that she chose to attend this university is because of their prestigious radiology program and the university’s affordability.

“I came here originally for radiology,” Wiley said. “It was one of the best radiology schools according to my dad. And it’s kind of cheap. It’s cheaper than other schools.”

Wiley said that her greatest challenges here was figuring out rather or not she should change her major and what were her career plans.

“When I was figuring out if I wanted to change my major or not,” Wiley said. “And what I was going to do. I was very confused with what I should do.”

Wiley said that she practiced self-reflection and changed her major.

“I just reflected and though of what it was that I wanted to with life. And came to criminal justice,” Wiley said.

Wiley said that being a radiology major did not fit her and that the program was very competitive and exclusive.

“Radiology in general wasn’t for me. Also it was very competitive because they don’t allow everyone into the radiology program, hence, I couldn’t get in,” Wiley said.

Wiley said that she is enjoying criminal justice a lot better than her previous major. However, she admitted that she is still figuring out her career path.

“I don’t know exactly what I want to do with it,” Wiley said. “But I want to do help people facing legal troubles.”

Wiley is also very involved in extracurricular activities. She said that she is a member of People Respecting Identity Diversity for Everyone (PRIDE), Amnesty International, and the Environmental Students Organization (ESO).

“PRIDE is the LGBTQ+ organization. Amnesty International focuses on human rights, and ESO focuses on the environment,” Wiley said.

Wiley is also involved in the Student Government Association (SGA), where she is a senator representing PRIDE.

Lia Wiley
Bridget Reilly
Criminal justice senior Lia Wiley puts a video game in her X-Box after a long day at school. March 5. Photo by Bridget Reilly

“I go to the SGA meetings as a representative of PRIDE,” Wiley said. “And that’s pretty much it.”

Wiley said that her favorite experience at PRIDE was playing games with the members during her first year.

“I just remembered that it was a lot of fun,” Wiley said. “It was great to be with a group of people like me and have fun with them. That was the moment when I felt like a full PRIDE member.”

Advice she would give to new students, is that it is important to be responsible and not slack off regarding schoolwork.

“You have so much freedom and it’s easy to not go to class or do your homework because your parents aren’t around to nag you about it. You go to do your homework and go to class, or else you’ll fail.”

Joanne Ortega, mass communication senior, said that Wiley is kind, compassionate, and loving.

“Just because she’s so sweet,” Ortega said. “You can see the determination in the effort she puts into PRIDE. She is also willing to educate the student body about the issues of women of color and LGBTQ+ women.”

Ortega said that Lia is a great role model for students, especially young women of color and those within the LGBTQ+ community.

“She’s someone I would look up to,” Ortega. “I appreciate how she goes about her daily life. Her determination in PRIDE really shows. Everyone at MSU is different but she stands out to me. I think she’s a great role model for women of color and in general as a student here at MSU.”

Ortega said that her favorite moment with Lia was when she met her. Ortega said seeing her pink hair in class and sitting with her in the Mesquite Dining Hall was cool.

“I have seen her in class and she stood out because she walked in with pink hair,” Ortega said. “I thought it was really cool. My first interaction with her was when I was having lunch at the Mesquite Dining Hall. I was by myself but I also and Zarya and asked if I could sit with them. I didn’t know anyone and I just wanted to know sit alone again. They invited me to their table and they all lived in Killingworth.”

Eliza Cameron, English junior is the president of PRIDE and is one of Wiley’s closest friends.

“I first met Lia through PRIDE as she was at a lot of the first few meetings that I went to,” Wiley said.

Cameron said that Wiley is very strong-minded and passionate.

“The first thing that comes to mind when I think of Lia is determined and excited,” Cameron said. “Because when she puts her mind to something she is passionate about she can get a lot done.”

Cameron said that her strong-minded personality makes Wiley a great role model for PRIDE members.

“I think Lia is a great role model because she works hard,” Cameron said. “And is an advocate for things she believes in,” Cameron said. “My favorite quality of Lia’s is that she’s just really fun and she has a kind disposition.”

Cameron also said that her friendship with Wiley has grown so much that she knows that she can express herself to her without any judgment.

“My friendship with Lia has developed greatly over time. It started when we were roommates in Killingsworth,” Cameron said. “And we’ve just gotten closer and closer because we’ve been through a lot of the same things and share similar interests. Our friendship is important because I feel like I can share really personal things with her and we can be there for each other.”

Cameron also said that Wiley has done a great job as a PRIDE executive.

“Lia’s best accomplishment in PRIDE has probably been how amazingly she did in the lip sync contest during homecoming,” Cameron said “We didn’t win but I think she and the rest of our lip sync group did fabulously.”

Cameron also shared her most memorable experience with Wiley.

“I have a lot of favorite experiences with Lia,” Cameron said. “But going to the international festival in Lawton, Oklahoma with her is probably one of my most favorites.”

Wiley met her boyfriend, Matthew Graham, mechanical engineering junior, through a mutual friend and former president of PRIDE.

“She introduced me to Lia in the Mesquite Dining Hall,” Graham said.

Graham said the first word to come to mind when he thinking of Wiley is loser.

“She says loser a lot,” Graham said. “And because she’s a loser.”

Graham said that she is more determined in her school work than many other student.

“She gets her job done,” Graham said. “When she has an assignment in school, she does it to completion. That’s a lot to ask of some college student. Because I know that I won’t do all of my work.”

Graham said that Wiley’s position as senator is very important because she receives much needed information then shares it with PRIDE.

“She goes to the SGA meeting, she takes notes. If she can’t go, she’ll immediately let someone know so they can go and take notes. She has been really good about relaying information from the meetings to the PRIDE officers.”