CALS Graduating Student Profile: Margaret Rivas

Margaret Rivas hoped to go to college to become an organic chemist, but her road to college was unexpectedly delayed when her mother was diagnosed with stage four cancer.

“All of my plans for college went out the window and submitting applications was not at the top of my priorities list,” Rivas said. “It was my mother! And my baby brother, who is 10 years younger than me. He needed someone to help him in the mornings getting ready for school, picked up from school in the afternoons, assistance with homework, as well as everyday tasks and support.”

With a family who relied on her, it was important for Rivas to remain close to home. Her coaches and advisors encouraged her to seek out local opportunities for pursuing her career interests. Upon completing her associate’s degree at Pensacola State College, Rivas decided she couldn’t picture herself living the lifestyle of working primarily in a laboratory setting that a career in organic chemistry offered. She determined that she wanted a career where she could work outside of a lab and connect chemistry with the natural world.

The UF/IFAS College of Agricultural and Life Science at Milton, Florida, location enabled Rivas to stay nearby her family while exploring natural resource conservation, a major that allowed her to continue studying chemistry with the intention of helping protect and sustain the earth’s natural resources.

Rivas took advantage of her degree program’s resources. Studying abroad in Ecuador was one of the most memorable and life changing opportunities of her college experience. While studying abroad, she lived with local families and visited Tiputini, a research facility in the Amazon, to study evolutionary change among tropical animals and plants. She hiked through the Cloud Forest, observed the ‘river of clouds’ and the ecosystem it feeds, and climbed the volcano, Cotopaxi. After visiting the mountains, Rivas traveled with her cohort off the coast of Manabi, where she swam with mantas and explored the remaining reefs. She ended her semester abroad in Galapagos National Park learning about the history of the Galapagos Marine Reserve management and how it impacts the local community.

“My favorite of all was experiencing the underwater world of such an incredible place,” Rivas said. “I swam with penguins, sea lions, turtles, a school of hammerhead sharks and many more incredible creatures. I couldn’t have made a better decision than to study at Galápagos Academic Institute for the Arts and Sciences that was provided through the University of Florida. It was truly worth it.”

In her advice to future CALS students, Rivas, emphasizes that it is important to not compare your situation to the situations of others.

“Some students finish their bachelor’s in three years and some finish in 10 years,” Rivas said. “Choose the path that fits you and your circumstances. Find a path that challenges you, yet allows for you to breathe – one that opens your eyes to a world other than your own. But do not forget yourself in the process. Enjoy every moment you have because these moments do not last forever.”

Conservationists protect and sustain our world’s natural resources for future generations. Well-versed in economics and communications, natural resource conservation students are equipped with strong analytical, critical thinking, and interpersonal skills. Students study chemistry; biology; ecology; and forest, wildlife, fisheries, and aquatic resources. Find a CALS major that suits your interests by taking our majors quiz. You can also find information regarding our undergraduate and graduate programs on our website.


Posted: December 12, 2019

Category: Conservation, Forests, Natural Resources, Recreation, UF/IFAS Teaching, Water, Wildlife
Tags: CALS, Chemistry, College Of Agricultural And Life Sciences, Milton, Natural Resource Conservation, School Of Forest Resources And Conservation, Sfrc


December 15, 2021

Amazing job my friend! Your perseverance and success is inspiring.

Andrea Gallik
December 15, 2021

So very amazed by you Jason! You have made your family and UF so proud. Your story lights a path for others. May you continue leading the way with your perseverance and integrity!

Michele Dysna leconte
December 15, 2021

Congratulations!!! Very inspiring story, May continue to be a beacon of hope for other young men dealing with similar issues

Matt Parker
December 15, 2021

Congratulations Mr. Coby. 11 straight ‘A’s eh? Way to go. Now go forth and fix the environment. Your girls look good with the current graduate. Nicely done. Beautiful fam.

December 15, 2021

Thank you for helping my nephew Jason I know he wasn’t a quicker but is this song I know if it’s Roman it will make it I’m proud of him and I look I love you and we always be there to support you we love you we love you aunt to Mimi

Anne Menard
September 14, 2021

You can post my comments.

Anne Menard
September 14, 2021

What a wonderful learning opportunity for the college students & it helps with their future education & career planning. Thank you Tall Timbers.

December 22, 2020

Dear sir, Thank you for your post. I Love group study.

Samuel Sam
December 10, 2020

Dear sir, Thank you for your post. Group study is the main for all students life and we learn a lot of things

Susan Weller
November 1, 2020

Congratulations for rewards well earned. Keep up this very important research. We are dependent on the honey bees. Your work is helping educate us all. The use of DDT was stopped due to scientist like you. Please continue to develop more earth friendly solutions for the good of mankind.

August 7, 2020


suba suba
June 11, 2020

Really appreciate you sharing this article.Really looking forward to read more. Keep writing.

Mohammed Mahmood Mohammed
May 12, 2020

Congratulations you earned that degree

May 7, 2020

Congrats Dr. Kawther. With your efforts you make what is difficult, been easy to get. Keep going don’t give up. Always the beginning is difficult but with the patience will be easy.

Pialang Indo
March 29, 2020

Very true this virus is very contagious, serious and potentially deadly virus hopes we can do what we can to reduce the spread of this virus and find the best solution to eradicate it. I was very scared until now and just stayed at home all day. Thank you for the information.

Pam Humphrey
December 19, 2019

Lindsey is an amazing, competent and caring young woman. She will be an asset to any company forward-looking enough to hire her.

Naomi Rose
December 19, 2019

Wow! I am so proud of her. Nana

Dagang Valas
December 14, 2019

Congratulation Rivas, hopefully the knowledge gained can be useful in the future and can help the community. Merry Christmas and happy new year too.

Ginny Reiss
October 1, 2019

So proud of you Adrian!!!

R. William (Bill) Henderson
June 21, 2019

Father figures are needed in all parts of education and in all of life. I teach GED to inmates in a local jail and many of the problems these inmates have stems from their many drop out fathers both male and female.

Amy Vasquez
June 20, 2019

Three perfect examples of men with integrity.

April 26, 2019

Way to go, Kendra!

April 1, 2019

Indeed everyone need to eat, and many also complain about the food source quality. I think we all should, at least, do farming in our homes. If the lack of space is a problem, then we should use vertical farming methods. This will not only clean our environment but also reduce the peoples depression (as looking at green reduces depression and is good for mental health).

Linda Nolan
March 16, 2019

Great information! Thank you Dana for sharing Ms. Clark’s enthusiasm about Florida’s agricultural importance.

March 22, 2018

I am sooo proud of Gallagher n the example given to her by these wonderful women encouraging others to jump in n make a difference. I say take your places with men n unite making the difference side by side. WELL DONE!!!

Edelyn Tidholm
March 17, 2018

Great article!

Karen Webster
February 21, 2018

We are very proud of you and your dedication to make agriculture better.

February 21, 2018

Enjoyed reading your article. It was well written and I could tell that you had put a lot of thought into what you wanted to say. Wishing you a great deal of success as you work toward your dream of becoming a lawyer. May God bless and watch over you as you embark on this journey.

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