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Dr. Kendra Rivera: Understanding the Nuances of Communication

By David Ogul

Dr. Kendra Rivera is committed to helping people better understand each other.

“I’ve always been interested in how people interact and the impact those interactions have on people’s lives,” she said.

An Assistant Professor of Applied Organizational Communication at Cal State San Marcos, Rivera has engaged in extensive research with everything from the U.S. Border Patrol to community health clinics, to understanding how communication can both shape and reflect overall health and wellness. A study she co-authored, Understanding and Alleviating Cultural Stressors and Health Disparities in the Perinatal Outcomes of Mexican-American Women, has become a resource for health clinics, practitioners and parents worldwide.

“I’m interested in helping to solve critical problems faced by marginalized populations,” she said. “In particular, I want to make our organizational experiences healthier and less stressful – be it work, the doctor’s office or whatever.”

Rivera also serves as CSUSM’s Faculty Director for Service Learning, a position in which she takes great pride.

“I feel that service learning not only helps the university give back to the community, but it helps students learn important concepts and theories while practicing specific hands-on skills in the real world.”

Her biggest reward comes through her students.

“My greatest accomplishment in the academic world is the students who have graduated and gone on to help their communities,” said Rivera, who has earned the CSUSM President’s Outstanding Faculty Award for Teaching Innovation & Excellence and the Dean’s Teaching Innovation Award, among others. “I’m proud of all the former students who have gone on to work in nonprofit or justice-oriented workplaces or have committed themselves to civic engagement, where they will be giving back to their communities.”