Loyola University Chicago

Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing


Student Spotlight: Jesse Rivera

Student Spotlight: Jesse Rivera

"I like to be moving"

There is no question HSM junior Jesse Rivera is on the move. In Jesse’s own words, “if you’re not moving, you’re not learning.” She transferred into HSM as a sophomore and immediately went to work. She set out a course of networking, volunteering, and as she says “picking up things everywhere I go.”

Jesse spent the summer interning at the Kenneth Young Center, a behavioral health service provider, where she experienced healthcare operations up close. She had a hand in building a community health center, worked under the Center’s COO, an experience Jesse termed “awesome.”  Describing her COO as someone “I hope to be like”, Jesse is building the kind of communication and leadership skills that come only from hands-on experience.

With a winning smile and a firm handshake, Jesse is a natural networker, and she has an eye for opportunity. As a pre-med major, she was selected for a research internship with the University of Chicago, became immersed in healthcare policy and its effects on access to care, and learned it was health systems change, not medicine, that made her heart sing.

Coming from a family of scientists – her father a chemist and mother a physician – Jesse was always drawn to a healthcare career. She just didn’t know what form of healthcare until she learned of the HSM major. Since then, Jesse has literally become one of the brightest faces of the HSM program, volunteering at events, taking on leadership roles, and seeking every opportunity to learn and do more.

Jesse advises HSM majors to seek out opportunity, anything and everything. Her mantra is “if you can balance it, do it”. Her energetic approach has undeniably propelled her career skyward, even as a junior. And she’s had fun doing it. Speaking of the cohesive HSM Student Council, Jesse says “we’re all really cool people.”

There’s a comforting clarity about Jesse. She has a clear vision for herself and where’s she’s going. Her picture of social justice is equally lucent. It’s about recognizing we are all not equally advantaged and the compassion that needs to accompany that realization. Jesse is not one to lose sight of the end goal easily. “This whole thing is about people, caring for people.”

Jesse is a hopeful being. She sees the possibility of changing healthcare for the better. She has ideas on how to do it, some of them as basic as putting people first. Respect everyone’s innate value, be kind and compassionate. “If you can do that, you’re on some good footing.” Jesse Rivera is indeed on some very good footing.