Before coming to Lorain County Community College, Rivera admits that she did not know what was available to her. She was married at 16 and within a few years she became the mother of four daughters—she depended on her husband for everything. “I was very naïve,” she said.
After divorcing at the age of 20, she tried to start college two previous times, but events in her life forced her to quit. “But when I stepped on the LCCC campus, I was determined to finish college,” she said.
As the first person in her family to attend college, Rivera feels a responsibility to show her daughters and others that they too can achieve their dreams.
“I hope to be a role model for other women in my community—to encourage them to go to college,” Rivera said. It is working for her daughters, as Rivera competes with them for grades.
“In seeing what I’m doing, they have become more motivated to do better in school,” she added. Her oldest daughter is an Early College High School sophomore, taking both high school and college courses at LCCC. Her daughters – 13, 14, 15, and 16 years old – have developed a Website [www.lifelonglearnings.com] to assist other teens journey through the tough teenage years.
Marilyn has familiarized them with the LCCC campus, by taking them to its library and having them volunteer at events like the Special Olympics Basketball Tournament and the LCCC FamilyFest. This familiarity with a college campus, she believes, will encourage them to seek higher education to fulfill their dreams.
“Working, going to school, and managing my time for my children has been a chore in itself, but it can be done,” she stated with pride.
After graduation, she hopes to become a U.S. Marshal. Her associate degree is in Criminal Justice – Police Science. “Everyone at LCCC – especially Ray Kneisel and Dina Ferrer, go above and beyond the call of duty. Not because it’s their jobs, but because they care,” she said.
Now her future looks bright, but even more important to Rivera is the fact that her daughters’ futures look bright too. “I have them thinking about their future. At their ages, that’s something I had never done,” she concluded.