As a child, all Mariana Rivera wanted to do was make a “difference in the world, make people smile, make people happy.”
This month, she’ll do just that, beginning her 10-month missionary work at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, thanks to the faith foundation set at Catholic Campus Ministry at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in public relations. As a missionary, her salary is donation-based and she will help coordinate events while also meeting one-on-one with students.
“I want to be that person who can help guide college students and show them they are missing out when they don’t have God at the center of their life,” the 22-year-old said.
Though her faith was formed growing up in Warren attending St. Luke Church, there were not as many opportunities for youth ministry years ago.
Rivera transferred to UCA as a junior in 2014 and was invited to a small group Bible study. Soon, Rivera went on retreats and became a Bible study leader. She also helped form a young adult charismatic team in Arkansas.
“It gives me an opportunity to get out of my comfort zone. It challenges me to be more than just a Sunday Catholic,” Rivera said. “I get to meet other college students who are trying to grow and get to know Jesus and it gives me an opportunity to grow as well.”
• What is your hidden talent?
“I can moonwalk. (I learned) when I was in first grade. I do not break that out at parties.”
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