California State University, BakersfieldWilliam Randolph Hearst Scholar
Growing up as the youngest of three children in a low-income household, Erika Rivera faced several challenges and the neighborhood where she lived provided little opportunity. Her mother's ambition to provide a better life for her family resulted in a relocation to Kern County.
After high school she served in the U.S. Army for five years and provided combat support for Operation Iraqi Freedom. Today, she is a first-generation graduate of Bakersfield College and now attends California State University, Bakersfield pursuing a bachelor's degree in liberal studies. She is employed at the Delano Joint Union School District as a substitute aide and clerk.
In addition to her busy work and school schedule, Erika spends one weekend a month and two weeks a year participating in combat readiness training with the Army Reserves. After the completion of her degree, she plans to become a teacher to positively impact the lives of students.