AIA: Champion for Education – Thoughts from AIA’s Treasurer, Ricardo Rivera

“…remember this, they can take everything from you, but the one thing they can’t take is your education…you keep that for life…”

As an undergraduate I attended a leadership conference with a focus on educational pursuits. One of the speakers spoke the above words which had a lasting effect on me. He spoke of the struggles and obstacles some of us face in our pursuits to attain education, be it financial hardships, family obligations, or societal constraints. He spoke of his struggles involved in breaking of the “glass ceiling” and the lessons he learned. Although, his heartfelt speech may not exactly mirror my own life story, the point and moral of the story resonated with me; and can resonate with almost everyone.
When confronted with obstacles during my educational pursuits, I reminded myself of the words spoken by that speaker. And although, the quote may not have fit every obstacle or situation; it is the underlying meaning that the quote relays: that education is a powerful tool that empowers and provides a person with the capability to persevere through life challenges. The unemployed educated worker stands a better chance for future employment because of his education. The broke entrepreneur can apply his business education and “know-how” to make money. This motivated me to push forward and attain the undergraduate degree and now an expected graduate degree.

Everyone, I’m sure, must face obstacles when they decide to pursue an education, but some face obstacles that are more severe: the lack of a school building, the lack of teachers. I am grateful that there are organizations, like Achieve in Africa, that seek to facilitate the educational pursuits of others. They seek to reduce the hardships for learning. And even though AIA may not be able to remove ALL obstacles, they do provide critical stepping stones for students’ giant leaps into their future education.
I consider AIA, and other similar organizations, a sort of anti-obstacles organization – the Champions of Education. And it is an honor to contribute my skills to further AIA’s mission. And wish great success in those seeking or currently pursuing more education, because education opens doors for future success.

Ricardo Rivera
AIA Treasurer