Tippie Associate Director of DEI inducted into the Iowa Latino Hall of Fame

Gabriela Rivera, the Associate Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the Tippie College of Business, was inducted into the Iowa Latino Hall of Fame. Rivera has done lots of work at the University of Iowa to promote Diversity Equity and Inclusion.

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Morgan Ungs, News Reporter


University of Iowa Tippie College of Business faculty member Gabriela Rivera, who was recently inducted into the Iowa Latino Hall of Fame, aims to serve as a welcoming and inspiring role model for UI students and the Iowa City community in her career at the university.

According to the Iowa Latino Hall of Fame,  honorees “represent the Latinos who have helped shape Iowa, the United States, and the world. Their induction into the Iowa Latino Hall of Fame will enhance the visibility of their contributions to their work, communities, and the status of Latinos in Iowa.”

Rivera said she was only 18 when she came to Iowa from Mexico City, Mexico. Since then, she received her master’s in Higher Education and Student Affairs from the UI and has become a mentor for marginalized voices on campus.

She began her career at the university as an admissions counselor, Rivera said, and later transferred to the UI Center for Diversity and Enrichment, and then to the Tippie College of Business, where she has received additional recognition with her promotion to Associate Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

She originally held the title of UI Assistant Director of Diversity, Inclusion, and Student Services in Tippie College of Business’s undergraduate program.

Rivera said she feels very grateful and privileged to work with students, and that she loves what she does at the university.

“The university is definitely invested in making sure that there are systems in place for making sure students, our faculty and staff, and everyone, feels welcome and included,” Rivera said. “And [in] everything that we do, we’re advancing initiatives that are aligned with equity and inclusion. I feel like I have all of these opportunities for me to become better at what I love doing.”

Rivera created BizEdge, a Tippie College of Business mentoring program for first-generation students who are minorities and underrepresented at the UI. She also works for Gateway, a program that reaches out to underrepresented high-school students to teach them more about attaining a business degree, Rivera said.

Undergraduate Program in Business Associate Dean Kenneth Brown said Rivera has won almost every award the university gives its staff members.

Rivera received the 2016-2017 Susan C. Buckley Distinguished Achievement Award for an outstanding achievement or lifetime record of service in 2017, making it the first time a Tippie College of Business faculty member won the award. She also received the UI’s Lola Lopez Award in recognition of undergraduate student advocacy in May 2020.

Rivera was named on the “20 Latino-Iowans You Need to Meet List” through the Iowa Commission of Latino Affairs. Both the commission and the Iowa Department of Human Rights announced her induction into the Iowa Latino Hall of Fame.

“[Rivera] does more than just serve as a role model for what it means to be welcoming and inclusive,” Brown said. “She’s helped create programs that bring more people to the table to do that work. Something she does every day is she tries to make the community that she’s in better by being more inclusive, and it’s really phenomenal to be a part of that and watch.”

Zahra Aalabdulrasul, a UI student who met Rivera through the BizEdge mentoring program, said Rivera has a special place in her heart.

“The individual colleges within the university have a long way to go,” Aalabdulrasul said. “So, knowing people like Gabriela [Rivera] exist is so important, and her value can’t even be measured by these awards and recognitions that she receives, although she’s so deserving of them.”

Aalabdulrasul said Rivera helps people simply because she wants to see them succeed. She mentioned that, in a predominantly white community such as Iowa City, it is important for people like Rivera to reach out to marginalized voices to help them find a community.

“I think with people like that, it’s very obvious who’s genuine and who’s doing it for recognition, but Gabriela has a very, very big heart,” Aalabdulrasul said. “And she’s always looking to help someone — she’s always looking to get someone connected. She’s always helping someone grow in some capacity.”

Rivera said that marginalized individuals who have the opportunity to connect with others should return that favor. She often gives out letters of recommendation with the hopes that those students will someday open similar doors for others.

“These doors will eventually open and you just don’t know when that door will open,” she said. “If you have the opportunity to interact with people who are very different than you, it’s a great opportunity just to be able to do that. When you’re able to give back and do that, be grateful and give back when you can.”

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