At Pomona College, Walter Rivera focuses on politics and finance. He's part of a global student entrepreneurship group, helped co-found a mentor program for high school, and considers a future in educational reform.
For Walter Rivera ’13, education, politics and finance are the driving forces in his college career. As a high school student, he attended PAYS (Pomona Academy for Youth Success), a summer college prep program aimed at low income high school students. He has stayed connected to the program as a volunteer and teaching assistant, as well as starting other groups to counsel students at Pomona and Fontana high schools. A member of Sagehen Capital Management, a student investment club, Walter also works as an intern at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney.
A Stepping Stone to College
I came from a high school where it would have been really challenging for me to get into Pomona. PAYS was a stepping stone for absolutely everything. It’s because of PAYS that I’m here, and now I want to give something back.
Fostering a Global Community of Student Entrepreneurs
I’m co-president of the Claremont Colleges Kairos Society, an organization that focuses on global entrepreneurship related to social issues. Last March, I attended the World Foresight Forum in the Netherlands. There were 100 college-age students, 100 investors and 100 experts in every single field you can imagine, talking about issues ranging from cyber security to the economy to education. They asked us to come up with solutions for those problems and if the investors liked the ideas and if the experts thought they could possibly work, you had this perfect triangle. It was one of the best weeks of my life. I got help funding the trip from Pomona and alums, which was very cool
Becoming a Mentor
After my trip to the Netherlands, I came back wanting to focus on educational reform. Maria Tucker (director of the Draper Center for Community Partnerships) suggested I contact Jacob Stiglitz ’06, who was the first Chief Operating Officer at Strive for College. One of its goals is to get college students to help out as counselors in high schools. We established a 5-C chapter and now have 60 mentors from the Claremont Colleges, who work with 65 students at Fontana High School. We’ve been helping them with everything they need to apply to college, from the Common Application to personal statements and financial aid.
A Dozen Advisors
I tell my friends I have a dozen advisors at Pomona, one for almost every single issue or part of my life. All my professors have been amazing, and I’ve also had great advice from alums like Franklin Ulf ’53 (emeritus trustee) about working in the financial field.
Politics and the Road Ahead
I thought about running for school board in Baldwin Park and decided instead to work as a campaign manager for another candidate, who shares my views on education. After graduation, I want to focus on a career in a financial field, but eventually would like to work on educational reform, either through politics or by starting my own version of PAYS. I want more people to have the opportunities I’ve had at Pomona.