SHAWN RIVERA
systems analyst, municipal light & Power (ML&P)

Why is education important to you?
I believe that education is the foundation to a better life, stronger community, and brighter future. Having received my K-12 education from the Anchorage School District (ASD) and undergraduate degree from the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA), I have seen the value and importance of a quality education.

I am dedicated to lifelong learning, helping to ensure that others have access to the same quality education and resources, and inspiring others to do their part.

In what ways are you supporting education?
I support education through volunteering, philanthropy, and advocacy. As a member of the United Way of Anchorage Emerging Leaders (UWEL) Advisory Council and Volunteer Committee, I lend my voice and time to help plan programming and volunteer events that promote and support education.

We hold monthly Lunch & Learn events where speakers come to educate our members and guests on various topics, including education and the 90% by 2020 Community Partnership. We also plan many volunteer events that support various organizations that are dedicated to education and our youth, including United Way of Anchorage, thread, Alaska Children's Trust, Best Beginnings, Spirit of Youth, Nine Star, and others.

 In addition to my work with UWEL, I also donate money to organizations that support education, stay connected with public leaders and educate myself about issues that affect our schools and youth, support teachers and school staff, vote and encourage others to do the same, volunteer my time to speak to students about education and career-related topics, tutor students, serve on the Youth Ministry Team and help mentor high school students who attend Sunday School at St. Mary's Episcopal Church, and promote education-related causes as often as I can.

What are some of the activities, events or ways that you volunteered your time? What do you enjoy about it?
What I enjoy the most are the opportunities where I get to interact with our youth and see how engaged and passionate they are about issues that not only affect them, but also affect our community. It is inspiring and helps keep me motivated to do my part to support them and this community, and I often leave feeling like I learned more from them than they did from me.

What specific issues are you passionate about?
Education and lifelong learning, civic engagement, voting, governance, combating homelessness, hunger,  and poverty, advocating for suicide prevention, battling the stigma associated with mental illness and other issues that affect people of all walks of life, promoting public safety, and supporting equal rights.

What inspired you to give? Why do you feel it’s worth your investment?
I feel a moral obligation to help prepare for the future by providing resources to organizations that have a vested interest in our youth and community. By investing in education through volunteering and financial support, we are investing in a better, stronger, and safer community for us, our families, and generations to come.

It is also an easy investment to make. Even if you don't have the time or financial resources to donate, you can do simple things like being kind and encouraging our youth, staying informed about current events that affect education, spreading the word about the importance of education on social media, writing letters to the editor, communicating with elected officials, and voting for education-related initiatives and candidates who support education.