how did you get to where you are today? I am Fluent in Spanish, English and French. I have translated for Albany County, Federal Correctional Facilities and the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision. I have also interpreted for independent academies for grades 2-12 and interpreted for hospitals and medical appointments. My experience as a translator has inspired my career to include the field of law, and now I am a Paralegal for the Borowski Immigration Law Firm in Downtown Buffalo, NY. My passion for helping others is what drives me towards excellence on a daily basis. I love to excel at my passions because it gives me a better grasp on my future. I have a long future ahead of me, since my intention is to be a Multilingual Attorney. Who has been the most influential person in your life and why? The most influential person for me has been Oprah Winfrey. Her struggle has taught me that through pain there is strength and this is a mantra that I use on a daily basis in order to excel at even the most minute tasks. I first learned about Oprah's past in the fifth grade and since then I was driven to challenge myself and challenge those around me to change the world in a positive manner and continuously excel in areas that were not otherwise accessible. How did you decide on your college major OR the career you have chosen? and how do you see your choice as an opportunity to help your community? I decided on my career through Faith. Christ has guided me to make many of the decisions in my life and when I decided to put my decision of my next job in God's hands, I realized that I was making the right decision. I was steered in a direction that would bring me not only hope, but love. Love for what I do and love for a field that I am passionate towards. I never stopped to think in reluctance, I simply moved forward and continued to push in the direction that was advised to me by the heavens. What is your Latino / Hispanic Heritage? I am half Colombian half Panamanian. Best memory of growing up. Fishing with my father. My father, "Dad" as I still call him, is one of my biggest influences. He constantly insists on me wanting more for myself and those around me. One thing that always stood out to me while we were fishing was this concept of patience. He always wanted me to be patient and I never understood why. It is because the lord is patient. Best memory of a day at school or work. My best memory comes from a day of work at Borowski Immigration Law, where I am instructed to be constantly be attentive to clients' needs and demands. I tend to be more reserved, so when I visit the Buffalo Federal Detention Facility, (Batavia, NY) it is a whole new experience for me. I am faced with so many inspiring stories that I barely know how to conduct myself. The amount of inspirational ideas that come to mind are barely accessible due to the amount of tasks at hand. Best day ever. My best day ever would be spending time with my significant other, Tommy Matusie, as well as one of my closest friends, Alexandra Clark. I enjoy shopping and spending time with loved ones, and if I were able to combine both it would definitely make for an above average day. Where did you go to College and what was your focus/major OR what College are you attending and what is your major? Business Best book you ever read. The Power of Now - Eckhart Tolle Favorite quote? "Change is inevitable! And listen to me, as much as you like to be in your comfort zone, as much as you like to be stable, as much as you like to control your environment, the reality is: everything changes." - Disclosure Favorite sports team. I don't watch sports. Favorite song. Float On - Modest Mouse Message you would share with all young Latinos reading your story. Don't ever, ever even consider giving up. Do you remember that Robert Frost poem, "and miles to go before I sleep,"? Think of that whenever you feel live giving up.
Nelson Manuel Rivera Graduate Assistant University at Buffalo Collegiate Science & Technology Entry Program (CSTEP)
How did you get to where you are today? Educator and musician NelsonRivera was born and raised in Buffalo, NY. He has been a steady member of the Buffalo music scene for over the last decade as well as an educator, working with high school and college students in science, law, leadership, and music. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Legal Studies as well as a Master’s degree in Education Studies from the University at Buffalo, with a focus on STEM education and underrepresented students. Nelson currently works with the UB Collegiate Science & Technology Entry Program (CSTEP). He also delivers talks to area schools on the relation and impact of music to all aspects of life. A servant of the Western New York (WNY) community, Nelson serves as member of the Community Services for the Developmentally Disabled (CSDD) Foundation Board and volunteers with Habitat for Humanity, Grassroots Gardens of WNY, and Unyts. As a musician, Nelson has performed at numerous venues around the Western New York area, in a multitude of musical settings from jazz to pop and salsa. Of note, he has performed with The Buffalo Jazz Octet, The Buffalo Jazz Collective, The Vintage Jazz Collective (Rochester, NY), Wendell Rivera’s Latin Jazz Ensemble, Sol y Sombra, The Pete Ciraolo All-Star Big Band, EMEFE, 10,000 Maniacs, Junction West, and numerous other musicians and his own bands he has formed. He has also worked as a studio musician, private saxophone instructor, DJ, and music program director across WNY. Who has been the most influential person in your life and why? My father. He set an excellent example to his family and community about love, integrity, servitude, passion, education, and always keeping a forward-thinking attitude. He is my best friend and never stops teaching me new lessons daily. How did you decide on your college major OR the career you have chosen? and how do you see your choice as an opportunity to help your community? I fell into my career in education through mistakes and mentors. I was an average college student until I was given an internship with Judge Betty Calvo-Torres in Buffalo, NY. She is the first Latina judge in Buffalo and made it her point to pour her wisdom into me. That internship gave me an incredibly broad perspective of social issues, representation, the justice system, and people of color. Combine this with my experience teaching students and I was directed into a career supporting underrepresented students through high school and college. I am forever indebted to mentors like Judge Betty. What is your Latino / Hispanic Heritage? Puerto Rican Best memory of growing up. Spending time with both of my grandmother's and asking them as many questions as I could about their upbringing in 'el campo'. Having been born and raised in Buffalo, NY, I felt it specially important to connect with a part of my family's history. Of course, the best part of spending time with my grandmother's was having coffee with them or a full 3-course meal while they told me all about their lives. Their stories were both inspirational and thought-provoking, hearing how they grew up working tirelessly on farms and other people's houses and still they loved life and made time for family. They remind me how blessed I am and how important keeping family close is. Best memory of a day at school or work. I can honestly say that my best memories are at work when my students come in during the Spring semester and tell me how they were accepted to graduate/professional school or were given job offers. As an educator, you have an open portal to students' lives that others don't have. You see their pain and their joy. And their successes give meaning and purpose to my job and keep me motivated to do greater things for them. Nothing better than celebrating with them when they realize they are smarter and stronger than they ever thought. Best day ever. First time visiting Puerto Rico. I was 21 when I first went - yes, I know that is late! All of a sudden, every story I ever heard and every family member of mine in the States made complete sense. All the food, music, mannerisms, and hospitality came alive and I walked away with an even greater admiration for my heritage. Where did you go to College and what was your focus/major OR what College are you attending and what is your major? University at Buffalo - (Bachelor, BS) Social Sciences Interdisciplinary, Legal Studies Concentration; (Master, EdM) Education Studies with a focus in policy regarding underrepresented students in STEM majors. Best book you ever read. "Pedagogy of the Oppressed" - Paolo Freire Favorite quote? "Be inspired, do not imitate. Don't play what's there. Play what's not there." - Miles Davis Favorite sports team. Buffalo Bills! Favorite song "La Esencia del Guaguanco" - Johnny Pacheco/Pete (El Conde) Rodriguez) Message you would share with all young Latinos reading your story. No one will represent you better than you. Many will have very low expectations for you while others continue to pave the way for you to have opportunities unimagined. Understand that you have greatness and elegance flowing through your veins and allow yourself to be sharpened, strengthened, and enlightened. You have something special to deliver, and engaging with the world around is how you will find what it is.
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