For sophomore Lazaro Rivera, hard work begins at home.
“Ever since I was a little boy, my mom always taught me the value of hard work.” Lazaro said. “When I was younger, she would actually take me to go work with her to clean houses.”
That commitment to hard work was put into action in 2016, when Lazaro’s mother was injured just before he graduated high school.
“For like a month, I went to where she would normally clean houses and would clean the houses for her, but then when I left for college, I couldn’t do that anymore.” Once Lazaro started school at Stony Brook he was forced to find a new way to help support his family. “I found employment with FSA, and that was a great opportunity for me to make money to help myself with college expenses and help my mom out with the bills.”
Since arriving at Stony Brook, Lazaro has held a variety of positions within the Faculty Student Association and Campus Dining. During his first semester he became a member of the Student Voice Committee on Campus Dining, then went on to become an employee at the Stony Brook Union dining location, a winter FSA intern, and a food service worker and student manager at East Side Dining. Currently, Lazaro works as a student manager in the SAC, and as a campus dining ambassador for FSA. “[My family] thought it would be too much for me to handle, but I worked hard and persevered. They’re proud of me now.” Lazaro said.
For the English and Psychology double major, pursuing his education is of incredible importance both to himself and to his mother. “Growing up, she always told me that without an education, people won’t respect you.” said Lazaro. “She’s not educated, but she’s still a very smart person, and taught me the value of hard work.”
Lazaro cites a commitment to his fellow Seawolves as another motivating factor for him. “College isn’t like high school, but we still need that sense of belonging, and I think it’s important that we all feel like we can count on each other.” he said. He currently serves as Sophomore Class Senator for the Undergraduate Student Government and is eager to serve as a liaison between students and administration. “When students need something, they may complain about it, but they don’t always have the access or the resources.” said Lazaro. “I can help them.”
His work as an FSA employee and as a student leader, has taught him the importance of taking action and working with others, all skills he hopes to employ in pursuing his career after graduation. As a Student Voice member, he has begun outreach efforts to survey students to find out what they think about the food quality and variety, friendliness of staff and efforts to accommodate special dietary needs. “I will continue to work with the dining representatives to make the campus dining experience at Stony Brook the best it can be.”
Lazaro particularly cites his introduction to programs such as Google Spreadsheets and Microsoft Excel as new skills he could put to use for future positions and potential research. After graduation, Lazaro hopes to become a psychiatrist and eventually pursue a career in government work, fighting for universal healthcare and equal treatment for those with mental illness.
For now, Lazaro is focused on his work with FSA and helping his family, in addition to his school work and extracurriculars, including his work with the Red Watch Band CARE Team to promote awareness about alcohol and toxic drinking. “[My mom] taught me to work hard in everything that I do, whether it be actual employment, or studies, or extracurriculars, or volunteer work – just try the best I can.” Lazaro said.
His message to incoming Seawolves? “You’re really gonna love it here.” Lazaro said. “It’s like a home away from home.”