Alumnus James Rivera, ’18, who is a first-generation college graduate, will serve as a keynote speaker at the NICE K12 Cybersecurity Education Conference, December 3-4 at the Grand Hyatt in San Antonio, Texas. NICE, the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education is a program of the National Institute of Standards and Technology in the U.S. Department of Commerce. Rivera will talk about his journey through higher education and the impact he has made in his community. NICE K12’s goal is to bring together educators, faculty members, professionals, researchers, non-profit personnel, and K-12 curriculum specialists to expand the effort to meet the challenges of cybersecurity education at the K-12 level and educate students about careers in cybersecurity. The program committee sought out Rivera after they saw him give a speech at the National Press Club about his experience as a first-generation college student and his involvement with Communities in Schools.
Rivera earned his bachelor’s degree in Public Administration and a minor in Criminal Justice. As a student, he showed proven leadership skills and soared academically. He served as the Student Government Association’s Downtown Affairs Director, where he represented close to 4,000 students to UTSA administration and community leaders. He completed an internship on Capitol Hill through the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute where he was heavily exposed to the legislative process. The program is one of the most prestigious internships for rising Latino leaders. James was an intern for U.S. Congressman Joaquin Castro.
Rivera is also a mentor to high school students. He is an alumnus of the Communities in Schools of East Texas and remains active with the organization as a Co-Chair of the Alumni Leadership Advisory Committee. He inspires the next generation of leaders by sharing his experience and letting them know they can succeed despite of the obstacles they may face.
James believes that outside forces should not define who you are. As part of his address, he will share best strategies for helping students overcome potential barriers.
“You are only defined by the limits you set for yourself,” said Rivera. “Don’t let society or people who dislike you on social media set those limits to achieve your goals. Blaze trails and break barriers.”
Rivera currently works in the Communications Division for the San Antonio Police Department.