Rivera at the 2017 Black in Business event
April 17, 2017
Lesanne B. Fliehler

Gabriela Rivera, assistant director of diversity, inclusion, and student success in the Tippie Undergraduate Program, received the 2016-17 Susan C. Buckley Distinguished Achievement Award for Staff this spring. This is the first time a Tippie staff member has received the award, which was established in 1994.

The award is given to a staff member for an outstanding achievement or a lifetime record of service or achievement. Their contributions should demonstrate significant impact through attributes such as leadership, innovation, and/or subject matter expertise; and should be considered role models for women and/or girls.

After 20 years on campus, Rivera’s impact has become widely known. She began her career as an undergraduate admission counselor in the UI Office of Admissions where she served as a liaison to prospective and current underrepresented students. When she joined the Center for Diversity and Enrichment as a multicultural specialist, she continued to support students through the Iowa Edge Program, intended for academically talented first-year African American, Alaskan native, American Indian, Asian American/Pacific islander, Latino/a, and first-generation college students entering their first year at Iowa. It was her work that helped to create new visions for thinking about first generation, underrepresented students. She was also enlisted to direct the Storm Lake Scholars Program for underrepresented/first-generation students from Storm Lake, Iowa, and she was co-director of the West Liberty Enrichment Program whose monthly meets are intended to create greater campus access and promote academic success among the students coming to Iowa from West Liberty.

In the Tippie College of Business, she serves as an academic advisor to about 200 undergraduate students and is the co-director of the Tippie Gateway Program, a summer residential program for high school students from underrepresented backgrounds.

“While she supports students from all backgrounds, she takes extra time to meet with young women to provide mentorship,” wrote Ken Brown, associate dean of the Tippie Undergraduate Program, in his nomination of her. “A day seldom goes by when I don’t see her huddled in her office with a young woman talking about how she can pursue her dreams. These sessions are not limited to students,” he adds. “Gabriela mentors young women professionals at the university as well, offering advice and support.”

Rivera graduated from Iowa in 1999 with a master’s degree in student development in postsecondary education.

The awards was granted at the annual Celebration of Excellence and Achievement Among Women on April 5.