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Brighton senior Nia Rivera excels on and off the field

Posted by Zuri Berry, Boston.com Staff  December 13, 2012 05:28 PM

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For most, attending a new high school in their senior year would not be easy. Yet the BSA’s December Scholar-Athlete of the Month, Brighton senior Nia Rivera, is excelling.

Not only does Rivera have a 3.47 GPA due in part to her hard work in the tutoring center the Zone, but she is also a cheerleader, a member of the Bengals Dance team, and on the senior committee.

She first started attending the Zone to keep her grades up during cheerleading season, until she realized its lasting effects.

“The Zone has everything: books, laptops, and helpful tutors,” she said. “Sometimes it’s hard to concentrate at home, so I get everything done there.

“It gives me a sense of relief.”

Rivera usually works on AP Calculus and her college applications at the Zone, which she used to attend twice a week. Now she visits four times a week.

Rivera credits the Zone for helping her fit in at Brighton High. She started school without knowing anyone, but it helped her make friends with student-athletes and even her Zone facilitator, Caroline Correa.

“I have a great relationship with Ms. C,” Rivera said. “She has this great energy and positivity. She values education and encourages all of us to do well.

“We have a great relationship, but everyone does with her.”

Correa thinks of Rivera just as positively, and stressed her leadership skills and drive for success.

“No matter what is going on or how many projects she is involved with she never disappoints me academically,” she said. “I truly am lucky to have such a great student in my life.”

What makes Rivera so exceptional is that she can fit in socially and academically just about anywhere. While she was born in Boston, she moved to Puerto Rico in third grade and worked hard in school and started cheerleading. She has also attended Boston Arts Academy and English High.

“I fell in love with cheerleading when I was 11,” she said. “When I moved back to Boston I joined Pop Warner, cheered for English and now for Brighton.

“I have a large background with dance, and cheerleading keeps me positive.”

Rivera said she was sad when the season ended, but now she has the new Brighton Bengal dance team to look forward to.

“There’s nine of us and we’re going to dance at the boys' basketball games,” she said. “We’re going to bring great energy so everybody comes out and has a good time.”

She added that she’s especially excited now that she recruited Ms. Correa to be her coach.

“At first I only had a relationship with Nia in the Zone, but now as her coach for the school's dance team I get to see Nia as an athlete,” Correa said. “She is so committed to the dance team and I can always count on her no matter what.”

Cheerleading and dance isn’t enough for Rivera though, as she is also planning prom, pep rallies, dances, and school trips with the senior committee.

“I just really want to make sure this is my best year in high school,” she said. “I know it will be more difficult to do things in college so I want to do as much as I can before I graduate.”

Rivera hopes to continue cheerleading at Northeastern, where she would like to study nursing. Eventually she hopes to work at Boston Medical Center.

“I really got inspired this year,” she said. “I want that to continue in college.”

Mary Pavlu covers Boston Public School athletics. She can be reached at Mary.Pavlu@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @MaryPavlu

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