Most alumni will tell you that their time as Colorado State University students helped make them better. It’s not often, though, that you can look back and say that a student made CSU better. But in Jovan Rivera-Lovato’s case, it would be true.
Rivera-Lovato, who grew up in Fort Collins, is CSU’s first male graduate in the two-year-old women’s and gender studies program. He was recruited into the new major by the director of the program, Caridad Souza, who was impressed by his deep insight into women’s and gender issues.
“You want your students to soar, and he’ll soar with you – and beyond you,” says Souza. “Academically, his level of scholarship is very impressive, but as a human being he’s just as wonderful. Jovan’s really been a dream student.”
Rivera-Lovato, who also majored ethnic studies in the College of Liberal Arts, says his experience has taught him to be a better listener.
“I immediately fell in love with the program when I came to CSU,” he says, noting that he spent a year at the University of Northern Colorado studying early childhood education. “I have spent a lot of time where I’m the only male in the room, but that creates perspective when you’re discussing power and difference in regard to gender, race and class differences. A lot of men shy away from talking about those things, but my classes really opened the door to understanding for me.”
Rivera-Lovato’s impact/accomplishments at CSU include:
- Served as a Women’s Studies Ambassador, helping develop and present women’s and gender studies program initiatives to the CSU campus and the greater Fort Collins community.
- Volunteered for the Sexual Assault Victim Advocate (SAVA) Center, providing crisis intervention and other resources for victims of sexual violence.
- Helped establish Social Justice College Visit Day, which gives Colorado high school students from at-risk schools a chance to visit CSU.
- Served as a mentor for the inaugural Social Justice Through the Arts, a program that invites high school students to attend a summer institute.
- Served as student coordinator for the Feminist Fight Club on campus.
- Worked at the Women and Gender Advocacy Center on campus.
“My goal is to help change campus culture, starting in the classroom, so people can identify problematic behavior and help students address it,” he said. “There is a network of undergraduates on campus who are working toward changing things, helping campus to be more inclusive, and I’m happy to be part of that network.
“I’d like to think CSU is a little better place now than when I first arrived; if so, that would make me feel really proud.”
Rivera-Lovato hopes to take a year away from school after graduation before returning to begin work on a master’s degree.