OSWEGO — SUNY Oswego’s coordinator of student involvement, Magdalena “Maggie” Rivera, recently was named one of 2018’s Successful Business Women, sponsored by the Central New York Business Network.
Rivera received her distinction — specifically citing her for “multicultural diversity” — July 18 at an awards breakfast at Embassy Suites at Destiny USA. She joined nine other honorees for the third annual awards, in such other categories as mentorship, community achievement and career achievement.
For nine years, Rivera has actively guided and assisted the leaders of student ethnic and cultural organizations in the yearlong planning and weeklong presentation each September of the college’s ALANA — African, Latino, Asian and Native American — Student Leadership Conference.
She also formerly served as SUNY Oswego’s Greek Life advisor, Student Association Programming Board advisor, faculty resident mentor through Hart Hall Global Living and Learning Center, and as project assistant for several study abroad trips through the Office of International Education and Programs.
“I felt honored that I was one of the women selected!” Rivera said of the award. “It felt good, but it also aligned with the different kinds of work at different stages of my life that I’ve done since I arrived in the United States. They (the selection committee) had learned of some of the work I had done in the Syracuse area, where I came to live from Puerto Rico.”
Through eighth grade, Rivera grew up on a farm in Coamo, in southern Puerto Rico. She moved to Syracuse when the sewing factory where her mother worked closed.
Rivera said she used television shows to boost her vocabulary until she became part of the Syracuse City School District’s first English as a Second Language program.
In high school and afterward, she worked with St. Lucy’s Church, the Spanish Action League and a club that offered an after-school program. She served on the board for Manos, a program that offered education for young children in the English as a Second Language program.
Moving on as a first-generation college student to Binghamton University and later SUNY Oswego, Rivera said she “always kept my ties to my network in the Syracuse area.”
Rivera worked in Oswego with an organization that assists migrant workers, and earned her bachelor’s degree from SUNY Oswego in 1992. While working for the county Department of Social Services, Rivera completed her master’s degree at Oswego, one course at a time, in counseling and psychological services.
She later added a certificate of advanced studies in student development.
She began at SUNY Oswego on a temporary, part-time basis covering a leave in First-Year Programs. She later worked for the college’s CSTEP (Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program), the McNair Scholars Program and the Educational Opportunity Program before accepting the role as student involvement coordinator.
Listening to the students has to come first in her work, Rivera said: “Find out where they’re at, what stage of their college development they’re at, what are their interests and what is the course of study. Connect those things together, and work to position them in an area where they can grow and develop and leave here to go into the professional arena.”
Rivera’s background displays the persistence that student leaders of cultural groups have shown. She’s proud of how the ALANA conference has grown during her tenure, thanks to the students.
“They have always found their way here, through peers or faculty or staff, to learn about ALANA,” she said. “New students have brought new ideas. ALANA has throughout the years seen many different initiatives. It’s a credit to those student leaders who have stepped forward to run ALANA, now through 32 years. That is something SUNY Oswego should be proud of, to last through all of these years.”
Each September, ALANA offers an Alumni Student Leadership Panel, the popular Fashion Show, the ALANA Unity Peace Walk, a community service day, the Collections of Expressions talent program, a gala banquet, several educational presentations and panels, and more.
The 32nd annual African, Latino, Asian and Native American Student Leadership Conference will take place Sept. 21 to 29 on SUNY Oswego’s campus.
For more information, visit oswego.edu/alana or contact Rivera at [email protected]