Luz Rivera ’16 G’18
Bachelor of Science in Psychology
You can have the worst thing happen to you, but you can turn that experience into an opportunity for learning and growth.
That’s exactly what I did, and it’s led me to be where I am now.
My mother used to say, in Spanish of course, but I’ll translate into English the best I can: “There is no bad that isn’t for the benefit of the good.” And that’s what I always tell my children.
I became a mother as a teenager and got married very young, so getting an education wasn’t a top priority for me. I didn’t return to get my GED until my youngest of four children was in kindergarten. Prior to that time, I was a victim of domestic abuse, but I wasn’t going to let that destroy me. It’s been my fuel to thrive, and help others do the same. So thirteen years after earning my GED, I decided to make a change in my own life to set a positive example for my family.
When I started working on my bachelor’s degree at Bay Path, I was working full-time Monday through Friday as a domestic violence advocate for the police department. I had the flexibility to take a full course load through the One Day A Week Saturday program. Many times in class, a lesson would click with me and I would say to myself, I need to apply what I learned at work. Those lessons have applied to my personal life, too, and I’ve even passed along what I’ve learned to my kids.
I landed my job at the YWCA through my service learning project. I chose the organization because its work is of great importance to me. So, I called and interviewed the director for my paper, and then wrote my service plan for the organization and volunteered there. Immediately after, I saw the job posting and decided to go for it. They made me a job offer and I realized I was going to do the work I was destined to do.
As a domestic violence counselor, I work with women a lot on empowerment. And even though my work is centered around victim advocacy and counseling, I have learned through my studies in psychology that it’s also important to have empathy for the abusers. If we’re going to fix a problem, we have to get to the root of the problem, and the root of the problem is not the victim. By studying psychology, I’ve gained insight into cognitive processes and feel prepared to make a difference in this field.
Even though my children are now adults, I still want to motivate them through my actions. Just this summer, I finally framed my bachelor’s degree and hung it up. My son, who dropped out of high school, looked at me and said, “So mom, when are you getting your master’s degree?” He didn’t know it yet, but I said to him, “It’s in the works!” and asked him when he’s going to go for his GED. As it turns out, he’s planning on it. I have also pushed my youngest daughter to go to college after having two kids of her own, and she is now studying nursing at a local community college. As for me, after I earn my master’s degree, maybe I’ll go for my PhD or even go to law school. I’ve become accustomed to studying and learning and I don’t want to stop anytime soon.