Copperas Cove High School senior Lisa Rivera, 18, worked hard and became her class salutatorian less than two years after transferring to the school.
Still, the teen is humble about her accomplishment.
“I’m sure a lot of people hate me because of it,” she said joking. “But honestly I just did my best. I have my own goals that I want to achieve and I would encourage all of my friends to achieve their goals, too.”
Math teacher Donna Brewer said Rivera’s positive attitude was refreshing to have in her classroom.
“She’s a very hard-working, pleasant young lady,” Brewer said. “She is very inquisitive, wanting a deeper understanding of ‘why’ and not just ‘how.’”
Some of Rivera’s many activities included treasurer of the student council, secretary of the National Junior Honor Society, co-founder of the Youth Advisory Council and member of the nonprofit Keep Copperas Cove Beautiful.
The activities helped Rivera build leadership skills and learn the qualities of a good leader, while helping her meet people in her new city.
“I needed to find a club last year, because it was my first year in Cove, and I wanted to be in a group and find some new friends,” Rivera said.
The straight-A student enjoys studying science in general, but specifically chemistry.
“I’m very interested to know how things work, like how the body is able to eat and drink,” she said.
Rivera was born and raised in Seoul, Korea, by parents Allen Rivera, a retired U.S. Army soldier, and Bokhee Rivera, a Korean native.
Before her freshman year of high school, her parents sent Rivera to the United States for a better education.
“I’m a U.S. citizen because my dad’s American, so they told me they wanted to send me to the states to learn English and get into a good college,” Rivera said.
During her junior year, Rivera moved from California to Copperas Cove where she currently lives with the family of a close friend.
The new atmosphere took some getting used to, she said.
“It’s a big family, and it’s very different, because I was the only child, but now I have three little siblings,” Rivera said. “It’s kind of fun though.”
Rivera was accepted to the University of Texas-Austin with a full-ride studying biochemistry. Ultimately, she hopes to go to medical school, but is open-minded about her future.
“I might find something other than biochemistry that I love, and if my passion changes, I am more than willing to find something that I’m happy about, because a career is a long-term commitment,” she said.
The message Rivera wants to leave for other students is to focus on long-term goals and not get involved in high school drama.
“All of the drama should not get in the way of your life because high school is not everything,” she said.