Magdalena (Maggie) Rivera, assistant dean of students, student outreach and support in SUNY Oswego’s Office of the Dean of Students, was honored this fall by Sen. John Mannion for her contributions to and support of the Hispanic community in Central New York.

Rivera was one of the inaugural recipients of a 2023 Commendation Award as part of Hispanic Heritage Month.

These community leaders and businesses help make Central New York what it is, a caring, welcoming, culturally diverse place,” Mannion said in an Instagram post announcing the winners. “I thank the recipients for their selfless commitment to the prosperity of others.”

Rivera, who grew up in Syracuse after arriving from Puerto Rico in the late 1970s, said this was the inaugural year of this recognition, honoring “a trailblazing group.”

Other recipients included publisher Hugo Acosta and CNY Latino magazine, Tulum Mexican Restaurant, Spanish Action League Executive Director Elisa Morales and Patricia Anamaria of the Syracuse City School District.

“I felt so honored to be recognized with these other people who are doing so much great work in Syracuse and within the CNY area,” Rivera said. “We are all bridging gaps with the community in Syracuse and beyond.”

Rivera has been on the CNY Arts board since 2021, and the president of that board, Rita Paniagua, nominated her. 

Over the years, Rivera has served as a bridge between the campus and the greater CNY community. She has connected Acosta and CNY Latino with SUNY Oswego students. She has taken students to the Spanish Action League for tours and to learn more about what they do. Rivera also has connected students with opportunities to converse with non-English speakers for opportunities that benefited all participants.

“I’ve been contributing to the Syracuse area for decades because I grew up there,” said Rivera, who graduated from the city’s Fowler High School. “For me, the award was like coming full circle.”

In honoring Rivera, the senator’s office noted her work at SUNY Oswego – where she also earned her master’s degree in education – include advising the Latino Student Union and Senoritas Latinas Unidas student organizations; leading trips and fundraisers to and in support of Puerto Rico clean drinking water and rebuilding after hurricanes Irma and Maria; and chairing the Federal Month Heritage Committee.

Rivera also has earned SUNY Oswego’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Award, the President’s Award for Excellence in Professional Service, the Outstanding Advisor Award and the Greek Council Outstanding Support and Service Award.

In addition, the Central New York Business Journal and BizEvents cited her multicultural diversity work in presenting her with a Successful Business Women Award.

“Magdalena Rivera is incredibly passionate about what she does; she brings a vibrance to the SUNY Oswego campus for its many Hispanic students,” the award materials noted. “For her incredible work over the years, she is most deserving of recognition.”