SEAS alumnus: “GW affects everything I do”

Alumnus Manny Rivera is the founder of RiVidium.
Alumnus Manny Rivera is the founder of RiVidium. (Photo: Courtesy Manny Rivera)

When Manny Rivera, SEAS MS & Cert ’05, was growing up in the Dominican Republic, he didn’t know he’d one day found his own IT consulting company—or that he’d become a standout alumnus of GW’s School of Engineering & Applied Science (SEAS). But he’s done just that.

Rivera is the first alumnus to ever sponsor and judge the annual SEAS Research & Development Showcase, a competition that celebrates undergraduate and graduate innovation in research. The event is also a chance for students to receive expert feedback on their research and network with faculty, SEAS alumni and industry representatives.

With so many talented students at SEAS, Rivera says supporting the showcase is a “no-brainer.”

As a child, shuttling between the Dominican Republic and New York City after the death of his mother, Rivera never dreamed he’d be part of such a community.

Separated from his siblings until they were old enough to care for him, Rivera worked in his aunt’s clothing factory for years, where he honed not only tactile skills, but a fierce work ethic as well.

Eventually, Rivera’s family reunited in New York, where Rivera attended high school. After graduation, Rivera joined the military, with the goal of earning an education along the way. In 1998, Rivera graduated with a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Virginia State University.

After completing officer training school, Rivera applied his education to his job with the military, working in acquisitions and learning about the world of defense contracting.

But Rivera knew he wanted to do more, and graduate school quickly became the next step in his career.

Choosing GW was an easy choice because “it was the best quality computer science program in DC,” Rivera says.

At GW, Rivera met scientists from around the world who were also continuing their education at the university. The quality of the students and their research abilities was “unparalleled,” according to Rivera.

Rivera earned his master’s degree from GW in 2005 and completed a certificate that same year.

Today, Rivera runs his IT consulting company, RiVidium, which he founded in 1998, and enjoys a dynamic career as an entrepreneur.

Rivera credits his success to his time at GW; in particular, the extraordinary talent of his fellow graduate students and GW’s one-of-a-kind research opportunities with faculty.

The SEAS alum is also a dedicated member of the alumni community. Through Rivera’s leadership with the Research & Development Showcase, more alumni have stepped forward to support the program financially and to participate as judges. The total amount of prize money is now $20,000, thanks to Rivera’s example.

Curious about Rivera’s road success?  His advice to students reveals the answer.  “Keep learning, keep researching and keep digging,” he says.  “There’s always something new to learn.”

–Buthaina Shukri

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