LSS grads four-year discovery of Ohio State—and herself

Regina Loayza stands between two friends

LSS grad’s four-year discovery of Ohio State—and herself

By Paige Galperin

If you had asked 17-year-old Regina Loayza where she envisioned herself in four years, her answer would have been instantaneous: anywhere but The Ohio State University.

Yet when the COVID-19 pandemic hit during the Columbus native's senior year of high school, Loayza landed at Ohio State. Now on the brink of graduation, the fourth-year Latine Student Success Scholar believes that twist of fate was instrumental to her journey.

“It wasn't what I originally wanted, but I am so grateful that I ended up here because I don't think I would have been able to try all the different things that I did if I'd been anywhere else,” Loayza said. “As I look back, I'm like, ‘That was probably the best thing that ever happened to me. Look at everything that happened because you came to Ohio State that probably wouldn't have happened otherwise.”

Certainly, Loayza has accomplished a lot during her time at Ohio State: On top of completing a major in environmental policy and decision making and a minor in Andean and Amazonian studies, she has also earned countless leadership roles, internships, and even a national scholarship.

However, Loayza says her success as a Buckeye began with the LSS Early Arrival Program, which provided her with a support system from day one.

“A lot of the people who were mentors back then are people I'm still connected with, even though they've graduated, and I still go back and ask for help and guidance,” Loayza recalled. “Being the first in my family to go to college in the US, it was so great to have that mentorship and peer support.”

Backed by LSS, Loayza quickly found her footing at Ohio State. She has been an academic force, making the Dean's List every term, spending a semester in DC as a U.S. Senate intern, and giving an Ohio State TEDx talk on the intersectionality of the climate campaign and other social justice movements.

One of Loayza's crowning academic achievements, though, was earning the Udall Scholarship, a selective national award for leaders in environmental and tribal public policy. The honor combined Loayza's interest in environmentalism with her Peruvian heritage.

“After visiting different areas in Peru, I've been super interested in how we can uplift indigenous knowledge when talking about environmental conservation and action,” Loayza explained. “This past summer, all the scholars got flown out to Arizona to meet each other and get more ideas about the Udall Foundation, resources, and how to keep our advocacy going. It was great meeting students from all over the country who are all so interested in environmental change and represent different tribes.”

Outside the classroom, Loayza served in numerous roles in Undergraduate Student Government, including Senior Director of Issues. She is the Executive Director of the Association of Big Ten Students and the Recruitment and Retention Chair for Lambda Theta Alpha, the first and largest Latina sorority in the nation.

Loayza also had the opportunity to give back to LSS in autumn 2023, when she was selected for Ohio State's Homecoming Court and used her platform to raise nearly $500 for the LSS Center.

While initially reluctant to attend Ohio State, Loayza now has plans to stick around. After graduation, she will attend the Moritz College of Law to become an environmental lawyer.

“I'm very excited about being a double Buckeye,” Loayza commented. “I've grown to love Ohio State a lot, and I'm excited to enter this next chapter of being a Buckeye, giving back to my community once I graduate, and really focusing my advocacy on the Columbus area.”

She encourages incoming students to make the most of all Ohio State offers: “Soak it all in,” Loayza advised. “Obviously, we're here at Ohio State to learn, but college is more than what you do in the classroom. It's the friends you have, the memories you make, the trips, the mistakes, the involvement, the internships, the jobs. Those are things that no one can teach you in a classroom.”