Meet our Wheeler Society Members

Meet our Wheeler Society Members

Sandra Rivera '85 (Retirement Plan)

Sandra Rivera '85

I believe that your money is like your voteyou have to put it toward what you really believe in. And I believe in William Smith College. In fact, when I was putting my affairs in order about five years ago, William Smith was the only organization I opted to include in my will because my experience there changed my life.

When I went off to Geneva in 1981, I was one of three siblings in college. There was no way my parents could afford to send us without scholarships and fellowships. To pay for college, I worked several jobs throughout college to make my tuition payments. Even working, I couldn't pay for my education without the scholarships that William Smith offered me. Right off the bat, without really knowing me at all, they took a chance and offered me a wonderful opportunity.

My time in Geneva was transformative. At HWS, I was very fortunate to find good mentors, strong supporters and people who believed in me even when I didn't. My economics professorsespecially Professor Bill Waller, former Professors Bernie Lanciaux and Jerry Newsomeand Dean Rebecca Fox all reached out to me and encouraged me to think big about my future.

To be honest, I'd never even considered graduate school. I thought that was something only "superstar students" could do. I was a good student and a hard worker, but graduate school? For me? My mentors didn't give up on me. Bill Waller and Bernie Lanciaux helped me secure my teaching fellowship. That support continued. Later on in my academic career, Bernie offered to review each chapter of my dissertation!

Today, after earning my Ph.D. , I have worked my way up and now have a fairly high-level government job where I help manage an office of Ph.D. and MA level economists that provides expert economic advice to congress and US Trade Representative. I love what I do and have earned the kind of job flexibility that allows me to leave my desk for a couple of hours to go see my son's Thanksgiving celebration in the middle of the day. I feel so fortunate and know I wouldn't be where I am now if it wasn't for my time at the Colleges and my stellar mentors. The support and encouragement I received is why, even today, I continually mentor students, why I have been actively involved in the Alumnae Association and why I decided to make a planned gift.

Sandra Rivera '85 graduated from William Smith with dual majors in Spanish and economics. She earned her Ph.D. in international economics from University of Kentucky and a masters degree from the University of New Mexico. Rivera currently serves as Assistant Director of the Office of Economics at the U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington D.C. She has also served as President of the William Smith Alumnae Council and was a founding member of the Afro-Latino Alum Association. She actively mentors dozens of students and recently started a Toastmasters club in Geneva NY.

Back to all stories

The material presented on this Planned Giving website is not offered as legal or tax advice.
Read full disclaimer|Sitemap|Planned Giving Content © 2018



Hobart and William Smith Colleges,
Geneva, NY 14456
(315) 781-3000

Contact the Colleges


Offices and Resources
Campus Directory

make a gift

Preparing Students to Lead Lives of Consequence.