CCC grad selected for prestigious Goldwater scholarship


CCC alum Daniel Rivera, now an engineering student and researcher at Northern Arizona University, received one of the 211 Goldwater scholarships awarded for the 2018-19 academic year.



Flagstaff, Ariz. - He went from being a high school dropout to being selected for one of the country’s most prestigious scholarships.


“I, more or less, got my GED because it seemed like a good idea,” said Coconino Community College graduate Daniel Rivera. “I’m pretty grateful that I tried to experience the real world without an education before I made the decision to come back and get one. That made my experience here at CCC immensely more valuable.”


Now an engineering student at Northern Arizona University, Rivera was selected to receive a scholarship from the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation. The scholarship will help him achieve his goal of attaining a Ph.D.


The scholarship was one of 211 awarded for the 2018-19 academic year to undergraduate sophomores and juniors attending universities in the United States. According to information from the Goldwater Foundation, the foundation “was established by Congress in 1986 to serve as a living memorial to honor the lifetime work of Sen. Barry Goldwater, who served his country for 56 years as a soldier and statesman, including 30 years in the U.S. Senate.”


The scholarships are awarded to students in the fields of natural sciences, mathematics and engineering. Students are nominated by campus representatives from more than 2,000 institutions across the nation. To date, the foundation has awarded more than 8,100 scholarships worth approximately $65 million. Each of the current awardees receive up to $7,500 a year.


Rivera said that his decision to go to CCC was based on the fact that his mother had attended CCC, and she enjoyed her experience. So, he decided to give it a try, and, to his surprise, he thrived in the educational environment. He first received a certification to be an Emergency Medical Technician, and he worked for Guardian Medical Transport.


“I’m glad I did that,” Rivera said, because the job experience gave him the motivation to return to school and focus in the biosciences and medicine.


As a CCC2NAU student, Rivera began a process of exploration he said wouldn't have been possible at a pricier four-year university. He received several scholarships at CCC in the process, which bolstered his confidence, and he was emphatic to thank the dedication and passion of the College’s instructors – particularly his math and physics instructor Philip Martinez.


“I made the mistake of taking calculus,” Rivera said and laughed. “That class changed the way I saw the world and thought about things.”


His emphasis in his studies evolved to include engineering with the biological, and now he does research at NAU designing controllers for prosthetic devices for people with amputations. Basically, he is turning biology into math by telling robotic elements what to do.


For his graduate work, he plans to work on a Ph.D. at either Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) or the University of Washington.


He added that his story offers inspiration to people who might be unsure as to whether going back to school is right for them.


“It’s OK to try,” Rivera said, adding that they don’t have to overcommit. Just take a class and give it the best shot possible. “Don’t sell yourself short. The trade-off isn’t worth it. Most people make a decision to get a B or a C to have time for other things, not realizing what opportunities that may cut off.”


He thought for a second and added: “If you make the decision to do well and nobody’s going to stop you, then people will respect that and notice it.”


For more information about CCC, visit For more information about the Goldwater scholarship, visit the Barry Goldwater Scholarship Website.



Thursday, 28th June 2018

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  • Thursday, 28th June 2018