BY HALEY ROBINSON ’17
Carolina Rivadeneira ’16 is the perfect example of a Mount Holyoke graduate who has translated their academic and cocurricular work into a full-time career. Rivadeneira, born in Ecuador and raised in Miami, chose Mount Holyoke for its interdisciplinary academic offerings and longstanding feminist history.
Rivadeneira was a Posse scholar and was actively involved with the CAUSE Board and Undocumented Immigrant Alliance during her time at Mount Holyoke. She also dedicated her time to Amnesty International, La Unidad, FAMILIA, SGA Ways and Means Committee and the Newman Group. Off campus, Rivadeneira worked as a CBL fellow, a position through which she had an opportunity to work with Casa Latina, Just Communities and the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts.
At Mount Holyoke, Rivadeneira majored in politics, Nexus minored in law, public policy and human rights and received a Five College certificate in Latin American, Caribbean and Latino studies.
Since graduation, Rivadeneira has moved to Chicago, Ill., where she works as a field organizer for Amnesty International. Rivadeneira completed a fellowship with Amnesty International in the summer of 2015, during which time she established meaningful relationships with other staff members who encouraged her to become a member leader and, later, a field organizer.
According to Rivadeneira, her daily schedule hinges on current events. “Sometimes, we have really good days when we celebrate the passing of a good piece of legislation, such as the Welcome Refugees city ordinance,” said Rivadeneira. “Sometimes, we have tough days, like when the Muslim refugee ban orders came out.”
Organizers like Rivadeneira are responsible for creating a strategic plan and promoting priority campaigns. “Whatever takes us closer to our goals, that is the tactic we will work on that day,” Rivadeneira noted. She also emphasized that communication is key: with members, community partners and the team in general.
“My biggest advice is that human rights and social justice work is possible and reachable. From my personal experience, I remember [that Mount Holyoke recruitment revolves around finance and consulting], leaving people who want to work for NGOs wondering if there are any jobs out there,” remarked Rivadeneira. “And the reality is that there are.”
While she warns that it can take up to six months to find an available position, Rivadeneira assures that the posts are well worth the wait. “From organizers, to campaigners, to labor unions, there are opportunities that are not only exciting, but that also pay well and have amazing benefits.”
Rivadeneira also has one last piece of advice: “Apply to a lot of jobs to give yourself choices and settle once you know you have chosen the best opportunity for yourself. You don’t have to be fearful; you just have to be determined and patient.”