Before earning two degrees from Kansas State University and dedicating her professional life to helping students achieve similar success, Madai Rivera was first an immigrant to the United States, and then a first-generation student. Now her efforts to help current minority students are being recognized with the 2011 Commerce Bank Presidential Faculty and Staff Award for Distinguished Service to Historically Under-Represented Students at Kansas State University.
Rivera, coordinator of academic services and diversity for the College of Human Ecology and admissions coordinator of Hispanic recruitment, will be recognized for her achievement at the College of Human Ecology’s spring commencement ceremony in May 2012. The award will be formally presented Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012, as part of the university’s Martin Luther King Jr. Observance Week.
Tom Giller, community bank president of Commerce Bank, Manhattan, said the recipient of the award receives a plaque and a $2,500 cash award for recognition of their contribution to the success of minority students.
“For 17 years, Commerce Bank and the William T. Kemper Foundation have partnered with Kansas State University to support this award that recognizes service and dedication to minority students,” Giller said. “These outstanding individuals aid in the development of a high-quality education for minority students at K-State.”
Rivera’s interest in multicultural and diverse students stems, in part, from her own background. Born in Chihuahua, Mexico, her family immigrated to Dodge City, where she graduated high school before coming to K-State. After earning both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees, she began working in the two roles she currently holds on campus.
“The most rewarding part of my job is working with current and prospective students and their families 365 days a year,” Rivera said. “My daily objective is to provide hope and encouragement to prospective students who may never have considered college as an option. It feels great to finally see them enroll as K-State students. Recruiting, however, is only half of the equation as results can only be obtained when heartfelt commitment is given from our faculty, staff and administrators. It is vitally important to support our students every step of the way in and outside of the classroom.”
In addition to her work in admissions and academic services, Rivera is currently the president of Alianza, a faculty and staff organization that advocates the advancement of minority groups on campus, and adviser to several student groups, including Sigma Lambda Gamma Sorority, Human Ecology Ambassadors, League of United Latin American Citizens and Sigma Alpha Lambda National Leadership and Honors Organization.
Rivera is also in the beginning stages of entering the university’s Ph.D. program in student affairs in higher education.