We’re excited to introduce a new monthly column we’re calling the Recent Alumni Spotlight. We could think of no better way to kick off this column, then to feature our 2013 Outstanding Recent Alumnus Award winner, Santa Maria Rivera.
Santa grew up in Yakima as a first generation Mexican American. In Santa’s family he was the first to graduate from high school, so college educated role models were not readily available. Santa’s path to Seattle University was an unconventional one. There were no online college applications filed during senior year, or group tours to explore the urban oasis that is the Seattle University campus.
Santa began his college career at Wenatchee Community College where he took to the soccer field. Soccer would act as a key to Santa, opening up doors and opportunities.
“I come from a very tough place,” Rivera said in a brief documentary about his life. “I would not be the person I am today if it weren’t for the opportunities that this sport was able to give me.” It was Santa’s skills on the soccer pitch that caught the attention of Seattle University soccer coach Pete Fewing.
When Pete saw Santa play, he knew he had someone special on his hands. He took Santa under his wing, and convinced him to transfer to Seattle U so that Santa could play for the Redhawks. During his junior season playing for the Redhawks, Santa led SU to a National Championship and went on to play for the Sounders for two years. After his two year stint as a Sounder Santa returned to Seattle University to complete his History Degree and graduated in 2008.
After his graduation from Seattle University, he went on to embody the values of his Jesuit education, as a mentor to at-risk middle school students and youth coach for C Alliance. He’s able to provide encouragement, educational support and coaching to the next generation of soccer players. Santa coached the C Alliance team to their first undefeated season in 13 years. He acts as the spokesperson for Golazo, an all-natural sports drink company that encourages youth soccer players to pursue their dreams and fulfill their potential. In his minority outreach role at Redept, Inc., Santa develops and administers a program to give young Latinos access to athletic programs and higher education to help them develop leadership abilities and strong decision making skills.
While nominating Santa for this award, David Chow , of Seattle University’s College of Arts and Sciences, called him the voice of hope for the Washington State Latino community.” We are very proud to be able to honor someone who gives so much of themselves, with an alumni award. If you’d like to join us in honoring Santa Maria Rivera, and other outstanding Seattle University community members, we invite you to attend the Alumni Awards Celebration on April 16th.
Would you like to be featured in our Young Alumni Spotlight? Do you know someone we should highlight? Comment here or send an email to email@example.com.