Growing up in Fresno, California, Nicole Rivera dreamt of being an educator, but not necessarily in the Central Valley.
As the child, she moved around repeatedly and saw her school, Aspen Valley Prep, as one of the most consistent elements of her childhood. Nicole started attending Aspen Valley Prep in fourth grade and continued all the way to high school.
“In college I thought I was going to leave Fresno, and then I decided to stay at Aspen Valley Prep, because our vision of empowering the community and envisioning a greater quality of life for students in Fresno drew me to stay so I could make a difference.
“Having a caring school to go to, I was able to stay consistent [with my education] no matter where we lived in town. So I built great relationships with my teachers and they really empowered me and focused on my leadership to help me become the leader I am today.”
Principal Riviera knows firsthand the impact education can have on a child’s life. Says Riviera, we “focus on student leadership and really empower students to have ownership of their learning.”
Strength from Culture
As a student, Riviera learned from and looked up to Hispanic educators at her own school. Witnessing this leadership firsthand helped drive her to truly embrace her own heritage. “As I grew up, what helped me become more proud of my hispanic culture was seeing other hispanic leaders I looked up to achieve success. It inspired me to become more invested in learning about our culture.”
Says Riviera, “Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to reflect on our nation, and how our culture helps strengthen our country. .”
In her Own Words
See Nicole discuss her journey from student to teacher to school leader in the video below.