Today@Sam Article

Commencement Spotlight: Joana Rivas

Aug. 2, 2021
SHSU Media Contact: Emily Binetti

“Commencement Spotlight” is a series focused on highlighting Sam Houston State University's upcoming graduates. These stories from Bearkats graduating this semester, who have demonstrated a “can-do” spirit through challenges and service, remind us of the many ways Sam Houston State is preparing students for meaningful lives of achievement. Visit today@sam/commencementspotlight to find the list of stories highlighted so far.

Sum21Commencements005Joana Rivas
Huntsville, Texas
Degree: Bachelor of Business Administration

“I feel that in these short years at Sam that I have grown so much, not only as a student, but as a person.”


What challenges did you face to complete your college degree?
JR: I've had to face many challenges. I am a first-generation college student. My parents immigrated to the U.S. and had little schooling. My older siblings decided not to take the college route, so the "college experience" was something that I had no one close to guide me through.

Apart from being a full-time student, I also work as an assistant manager at Lush Hair Salon. Juggling work and school was very challenging, because I really had to be focused at all times and had little time for my mind to relax. When classes went online for the pandemic, it was especially challenging. I was not used to being on my computer for so many hours.

Unfortunately, at one point my family and I got COVID, and times were tough. It was hard being sick and trying to keep track of school, but thankfully I was able to get through it. We all were. There were many sleepless nights, late night study sessions and the occasional all-nighters, but thankfully my parents and friends have always cheered me on from the sidelines. The challenges may be great, but my ambition and motivation is far greater!

What community service projects have you taken part in during your time at SHSU?
JR: Apart from school and work, I have been very involved with my church. I grew up going to a small church in Huntsville, TX called Iglesia Cristo Rey, and still attend today. I have always been very involved with the congregation, and specifically, the youth ministry and the music ministry. Working with other people in the church is something I am passionate about. We hold fundraisers and clothes drives. In times of need, we send clothes and food to places like Mexico. I am very blessed to be part of a church that helps those in need and walks with the purpose of letting God's light and love shine through them.

What will you miss most about your time as an SHSU student?
JR: Being a student at SHSU threw many challenges my way, but I enjoyed the opportunities to face them. I feel that in these short years at Sam that I have grown so much, not only as a student, but as a person. I enjoyed the feeling of overcoming what seemed to be impossible at the time. That is what I will miss most.

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