Ryanne Mace had the unique ability to help and comfort people with her words and actions.
“In high school, some of her friends were kind of fringe kids who were maybe picked on by others or a little disenfranchised,” her father Eric recalled. “She was level-headed and smart, and as a result, they went to her for advice. At some point she decided that’s what she wanted to do with her life.”
At NIU, Mace, a 19-year-old sophomore from Carpentersville, was an honors student studying psychology with the intention of attaining a doctorate-level degree and working in the field of counseling. She had already served an internship in high school at a counseling center.
“She was a good kid, funny and brilliant,” said her mother, Mary Kay.
Her daughter studied French, had played violin in the symphony orchestra at Dundee-Crown High School and was an avid reader, sometimes juggling four or five books at a time.
But she was also a typical college student who would sleep past noon, was willing to stand in line at midnight for the next Harry Potter offering and collected things of all sorts.
“You never knew what she would start accumulating,” her father said. “When she came to NIU she had probably 500 writing utensils. She even had a purple Sharpie on her key chain.”
Faculty members who knew her at NIU described a young woman who was intellectually engaged, highly motivated, outgoing and friendly. Mace was taking a psychology course with Professor Kevin Wu, who said she was interested in studying mental illness.
“She was taking my course as an honors student, which meant she was going to complete a project with me,” Wu said. “She had gotten a good start and was very enthusiastic about the work she was doing.”
Psychology Professor Lisa Finkelstein had mentored Mace last year and had her in a social psychology course this semester.
“She was always friendly and laughing—just a really good kid,” Finkelstein said. “Ryanne was one of those students who really wanted to be there.”
Sophomore, age 19