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College of Arts & Sciences
Department of Sociology


Featured Alum

Loretta Raiford, '04

Loretta Raiford graduated from USC with a Bachelor's degree in Sociology in 2004.  

Prior to attending USC, Loretta Raiford volunteered at an orphanage in East Africa at the age of 19.  She subsequently entered college with the intention of obtaining a nursing degree in order to be better equipped to help meet the health needs of underserved populations but quickly found she was drawn to the study of Sociology. She tells us that “this course of study has proven enormously influential in shaping my worldview and manifests itself in many aspects of my personal and work life.”

After graduating from USC in 2004 with her Sociology degree, Loretta worked briefly in the nonprofit sector.  She eventually returned to school to obtain her bachelor’s degree in nursing. She says people often ask if she regrets the time, energy, and money expended on her first (Sociology) degree since at first glance it doesn’t appear to be something she utilizes in her work.  Loretta states:  “my answer is always a resounding no.  My first degree informs everything I do- from my nursing practice, to how I shop, to how I vote, to how I raise my son.”

Loretta has spent the past several years working as a nurse in an inner city hospital with a highly diverse and often under-served population. She states:  “I'm fortunate to be a part of a forward-thinking organization that seeks to understand the needs of our population. We have many patients who are disenfranchised, living on the fringes of society, impoverished, homeless, substance-addicted, mentally ill, and exposed to violent lifestyles. My background in sociology has helped me learn to think critically about the systems and culture in which we live, providing me with a macro-systems perspective as I do my work seeking to improve the health and lives of those we serve. My coursework in sociology has informed my views on both the subtle and glaring disparities in our society, broadening my understanding of the world in which we live.” 

In addition to her nursing practice, Loretta is working with her family to found an eco-retreat center, and plans to return to school to obtain a doctorate in nursing.  She plans to work as a psychiatric nurse practitioner with an emphasis in prosocial health behavior and eco-psychology.

Loretta has recently applied for a position in her hospital’s milk bank, which collects, pasteurizes, and distributes vitally needed human milk to critically ill premies and neonates across the nation.  About this, she states that if offered the position, she’s thought about “perhaps focusing some of my research on the prosocial behavior of milk donation…so there’s Sociology informing my career again!”

In her spare time, Loretta enjoys oil painting, the occasional blacksmithing class, long bike rides (she completed a century last year), camping, and travel.  “I love good wine, strong coffee and delicious food- especially when it’s from a backyard garden- and haven’t met a recipe I won’t try my hand at. Much to my 5 year nephew’s delight, have eaten a wide variety of adventurous (bordering on grotesque) foods.”  Loretta’s travels have included hiking the El Camino in Spain, a brief stint in an Alaskan dog mushing, driving the Pacific coast highway from Malibu to Seattle, rafting on the Nile River, visiting IDP camps in Northern Uganda, backpacking through Italy, a solitary introspective week in the Netherlands, and a lovely weekend in Germany that started with meeting a delightful Australian stranger on a train.  She has a strong history of volunteerism and currently works to support women and children living in poverty both here and overseas.