Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2022 graduates.
Jennifer Rivera started her journey to higher education by attending a community college to focus on her general studies. She wasn’t always sure what degree she would pursue, but after taking a career quiz, she found out she’d be a perfect fit for sociology.
Once she was at Arizona State University and started her courses, she was excited to learn that she did in fact love everything about sociology.
Rivera received the Transfer Achievement Award, which is awarded to students who transfer to ASU from any Arizona community college with a GPA of 3.5 or higher.
Rivera is a first-generation graduate and is receiving a Bachelor of Science in sociology with a minor in women and gender studies. She is graduating with summa cum laude.
While at ASU, Rivera took an internship through planned parenthood and hopes to continue her work in the sexual health field for nonprofit organizations after graduation.
Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?
Answer: I knew I wanted to major in sociology when the knowledge presented in every course made me want to keep learning more! I didn’t have to conform to one sole subject of study, in taking a sociology course I was able to learn about the ways social behaviors and social change influences the systems that exist in society today.
Q: Why did you choose ASU?
A: As a transfer student, I saw ASU as the best option because all my credits were able to transfer and I was able to come into ASU as a junior and begin taking more in-depth sociology courses.
Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?
A: Dr. Mellissa Linton was the most influential professor I ever had at ASU; it was the first time I had ever felt seen in a classroom. Dr. Linton taught all the students that their voices mattered in academia and should be heard.
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?
A: Don’t lose yourself in things or people that do not serve you or your future!
Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?
A: My favorite spot at ASU is the Social Sciences Building because it had the most shady areas and was full of beautiful plants!
Q: What are your plans after graduation?
A: My plans after graduation are to continue working in the sexual health field with nonprofit organizations, advocating for inclusive sex education statewide in order to promote and protect individuals autonomy when it comes to reproductive health, as well as engage in discussions about healthy relationships, pleasure, consent, gender identity and LGBTQIA+ issues.
Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?
A: A takeaway I have had by studying sociology is the privilege to recognize the inequalities society faces and who is affected the most by the way the social system works. In saying so, if someone were to give me $40 million to solve one problem, it would be to provide housing for people in the community. Housing is a basic and fundamental human right, and I believe everyone deserves housing regardless of support needs, gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, age or immigration status.
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