Leaving a Legacy: Rowena Rivera

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Rowena Rivera

Rowena Rivera is a retired Spanish professor who taught at CSU in the 1960's. She was born in Mesilla, New Mexico, and grew up with bilingual parents who spoke Spanish to her as a child. Rowena says, "If you learn a language at home, it stays with you forever."

Rowena also remembers how kind her teachers were to her and her sister Gloria as they were learning English throughout their elementary education. Rowena cherished her elementary learning experience, and practiced kindness and patience while teaching her own students the Spanish language.

The experiences Rowena enjoyed with her Spanish students studying abroad in the 1970's were so enchanting that they have become the basis for short stories she writes today, some of which have been published by University of Arizona Press.

To give her student a similar experience, Rivera accompanied them to places such as Cuernavaca and Madrid, where each student stayed with a family and was required to speak only Spanish. Rowena recalls, "I told my students do not be afraid. If you make mistakes, you will learn from them. If you continue with the Spanish, you will come back to college being completely bilingual."

Rowena has made a planned gift of one-third of her estate to Colorado State's Department of Foreign Languages and Literature. She hopes the scholarships her gift will provide will inspire more students to study Spanish, here and abroad, and come to love the language, teach it, and enthrall others in its mystery and magic.

Paola Malpezzi Price, Chair of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literature, says "Gifts, such as Rowena's, will allow students who would not otherwise be able to afford to study abroad, and other deserving students. a once in a life time experience."

In particular, Rowena's gift will provide scholarships for students to study in Spain and Mexico, and support a new summer program for students to study in Merida Mexico, located in the Yucatan Peninsula.