Jayro Rivera’s future plans are not just about himself, but about giving back to his community. With plans to pursue his undergraduate degree in nursing, followed by a career in the Air Force, Rivera is determined to make a difference.

During his time at Singley Academy, Rivera excelled in the homeland security Signature Studies program. He was drawn to the specialty after seeing his older sister, Janneth, participate in the program. After joining the Signature Studies program himself, his initial interest transformed into a passion for all things homeland security.

“I thought it was only about law enforcement, but as I got more into it, my knowledge expanded,” says Rivera. 

His interest piqued during the National Security and Disaster Response course. It was this class that sealed his plans to pursue a career in the homeland security field. Ultimately, he hopes to become an emergency manager if not in Irving, somewhere within the DFW Metroplex. 

“I chose homeland security because it’s about having the back of the community,” Rivera says. “I just want to give back to my community.”

And he already has. As part of his studies, he was charged with commanding a disaster-response tornado drill initially planned for this spring. The drill was to be put on for the very first time this year, hosted by the homeland security students in partnership with local disaster-relief professionals and in accordance with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) protocol. Though the drill was cancelled due to social distancing restrictions, Rivera put hours of work into preparing for the event. 

His primary role was to lead and direct nearly 60 students who would each be assigned emergency response roles in the drill. Not only was the drill intended to give emergency-response experience to leading high school students, but also to local elementary and middle school students who were invited to participate. 

As imminent commander and president of the Homeland Security Club, Rivera was charged with facilitating relationships with local emergency response professionals and coordinating appropriate disaster response protocol with other students in the community.

His long-time teacher and mentor, Barry Hinkle, was thoroughly impressed but not surprised by Rivera’s incredible effort.

“He and the officers took care of the whole thing, from getting outside vendors to making contact with I don’t know how many industry professionals,” says Hinkle. “I would introduce him to professionals in my network and say, ‘This is the next director of FEMA.’ He’s just that good at what he does.”

And it’s not just his teachers who admire his selflessness and hard work. Rivera was awarded the Gary L. Schepf Servant Leader Scholarship, a scholarship to recognize one senior who leads with excellence and passion.

“He’s a hero because he really steps up to the plate and takes care of business,” says Hinkle. “He has a true servant’s heart.”

Outside of his studies, Rivera also participated in the National Honor Society, Singley Phoenix Crew, Police Explorers Club and Student Council.

Together with his sister, Rivera will attend Brookhaven College to study nursing this fall. He chose nursing in hopes of gaining a better understanding of the medical side of emergency response, which will aid in his long-term goal to become an emergency manager.