Scholarship helps student become the first to attend college in her family

When Azira Rivera left her hometown of Colorado Springs, Col., for the University of Minnesota, she became the first in her family to attend college.

“I always knew that I had to do something,” Azira said. “I wanted to leave Colorado. I wanted to make a name for myself.”

Determination is a trait she attributes to her parents, who have worked hard to provide for Azira and her five siblings. “They really inspire me. I just want to be the best that I can be for them,” she said.

“It has changed my life. I’m more independent, and the scholarship had a huge impact on that. It made me a stronger person.”

- Azira Rivera

Although she came to the University not knowing anyone, Azira wasted no time in getting involved on campus with organizations such as the Society of Women Engineers, North Star STEM Alliance, and CSE Ambassadors. She has also volunteered for Relay for Life, the Girls & Science event at the Science Museum of Minnesota, the Kids in Need Foundation, and more.

“I enjoy it – making connections, seeing people smile,” Azira said. “I also get to meet a lot of people.”

Azira is able to pursue these activities thanks to a scholarship from Richard Kruger. With the financial support, Azira says she doesn’t have to spend her free time working to cover the cost of out-of-state tuition.

More importantly, Azira says the scholarship “solidified” her decision to leave home and come to the U of M to pursue her dreams.

“It has changed my life,” she said. “I’m more independent, and the scholarship had a huge impact on that. It made me a stronger person.”

Azira plans to major in mathematics with the goal of obtaining her Ph.D. and becoming a professor.