SWAG on 6: Deerfield Beach High School's Guadalupe Rivera

Being the president of three clubs says something loud and clear about a student’s popularity and leadership skills.

Guadalupe Rivera leads Deerfield Beach High School’s chapter of HOSA, which stands for Health Occupation Students of America. She’s president of the National Technical Honor Society, and the first president of a new club called the BRACE Ambassadors.

The BRACE Ambassadors act like an extension of the school’s college advisor, encouraging the college dreams of their peers.

“The problem is that students think that there’s no opportunity for them to succeed in college, or the money, it’s always the money problem,” Guadalupe said.

So Guadalupe started an intense effort to get her peers to fill out the FAFSA forms, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The goal was to raise the percentage of students from 37% last year to over 50% this year, and she succeeded.

The Ambassadors also spread the word about various scholarship opportunities and helped their classmates fill out college entry applications. It all worked so well, the college advisor says the Ambassadors opened the doors of opportunity to dozens of kids.

“It makes me feel really happy because I have a passion to help students and everyone else around me so if we all achieve something together that’s greatness, that’s what success looks like,” Guadalupe said.

“The reason she’s so exceptional,” said Michelle Davis, the school’s college advisor, “is because she’s not only concerned about getting all the opportunities for herself, that ambition, but she wants to make sure other students do as well.”

Guadalupe wasn’t always so destined for success. As a freshman, she was considered an at-risk kid. Now she’s about to graduate with a four-year scholarship to Broward College. How did she manage that trajectory? The “Take Stock in Children” mentoring program saw Guadalupe’s potential early, they supported here, and she did the rest.

“It does make you feel prideful, not to brag or anything, but it is a huge deal, it just makes me feel like I was given an opportunity and I’m not gonna let it go,” Guadalupe said. “Because sometimes things come to you and they become like dreams and you become something great.”

That’s why kids gravitate toward her, Guadalupe’s positive, can-do attitude is infectious.

“She’s resilient and she makes opportunities for herself, she doesn’t wait for things to come to her,” said Valencia Simmons, a senior and one of Guadalupe’s classmates.

“She’s a role model for many people, especially me,” said junior Leandra Fisher, a member of the BRACE Ambassadors. “She’s kinda like what I want to do with my high school years.”

Guadalupe wants to be a nurse practitioner. Her parents moved here from Mexico and went through a lot of hardship, so she knows what adversity is like. She’s an example for other kids to follow, especially those who don’t have opportunities handed to them on a silver platter.

“My advice to them is if you can get through yesterday, you can get through today,” Guadalupe said.

Words to live by, which is why this young woman’s tomorrow is so bright.

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