My name is Andrew Rivera. I want to inspire everyone who watches me on social media or sees me in events to witness that hardwork does pay off. As a young boy, I grew up in lower income minority neighborhoods that were impacted by drugs and gangs. I grew up with a single mother at the age of 15 with no biological father in my life. As a young boy, I was told you can’t go to a BIG University, have a house, nice car and I would repeat the cycle because of the zip code I grew up in.
I knew this wasn't the STIGMA I wanted to adhere too. So, I decided to make a change. Although, I was picked on in school because I was overweight, wore glasses and didn’t have nice clothes. I still never let that stop me from looking towards the future. After graduating from High School, I decided to enlist into the United State Army where I would serve one tour overseas as an Infantryman, finishing in the top percentage within my division for Pre Ranger School and attended Special Forces Assessment Selection (cut). I decided to get out of the military in 2013. I was suffering with PTSD and fell into an emotional and physical state of depression. I was struggling to find a reason to live and my purpose in life. I realized I needed to change because I went from 198 lbs to 286 lbs gaining almost 90 lbs.
Therefore, in 2016, I applied to the college of my dreams since I was a child “Marquette University”. I achieved two degrees within 2 1/2 years as a Nontraditional student with a cumulative 3.4 GPA. While attending Marquette, I face many barriers, I had two sons born, volunteered within my community, was Vice-President of Fraternity chapter and worked to support my family. Some people asked, “How did you do all of that and still graduate earlier than most?” It was the determination and the remembrance of my childhood that when you want something in life you have to go after it and not allow any negativity nor barriers to stop you from achieving your GOALS.
After graduating from Marquette in December of 2018, I decided to start a Home Remodeling company. As a child, not having someone to teach me basic home improvements. Therefore, I started my own company, because I didn’t want to start at the bottom and learn at a slow pace. Instead, I hired the best carpenters in my area and paid them to teach me because when you are the BOSS you don't have to learn at an entry employee pace.
Then, the BIG move came. My wife and I decided to move to Florida with no support nor family in the area. We packed up our car and drove to Florida to take on a new life. It was not easy and there were times we thought about going back to Wisconsin. However, we did not want to be defeated so we developed new skills which has led me to inspire everyone around me to go after the life they deserve.
I understand what it takes to struggle, get over difficulty, become a self taught learner and an understanding of what it takes to be successful. I know my story is similar to so many who