Erica Rivera Lara, Class of 2004 explains her Nyack College experience in this short video.
What aspect of the college drew you to Nyack College?
Erica: I think the main thing that really drew me [to Nyack College] was just the community. You could tell it was a very tight-knit community. It was very like a family feel. I felt welcomed and I felt like I could definitely fit in. I obviously loved the diversity here. That’s something that’s a huge value for me and I wanted to surround myself with that.
What was your student experience like outside of the classroom?
Erica: For me, I was a student that engrossed myself with the Gospel Team. We would go out every Friday night to a specific area in the South Bronx. We kind of stumbled upon a specific street through prayer walking. We felt like God led us there to stay there, so we just started going and hanging out with kids, playing with them, bringing out gear and equipment, balls and stuff for them to play with and started to build a relationship with these kids. We had nowhere to go as far as a facility, so we were out there. Rain, shine, winter, whatever we were out there. If we weren’t out there, the kids were waiting for us. They called us the ‘Jesus people.’ We’d come on the street, doing our little Gospel chants and they would be like, ‘the Jesus people are here.’ They would all come out and we would spend time with them and it was something that we did every week. For me just the investment and the energy and the time that I spent, it was so worth it.
How did these college experiences impact the rest of your life?
Erica: I really feel like my heart for the inner city was really birthed through Nyack College. It started here and obviously through doing Watchmen and I felt like I took that with me when I left. Working and living in a neighborhood that most people wouldn’t choose to live in, but we feel like God has called us there to live and love on the people there. I feel like all those things are just fruition of what God started within my heart at Nyack.
Who were the main influencers in your life when you were a Nyack College student?
Erica: Everyone that pops out for me are people who are all on the student development staff. They were very pivotal in my growth, spiritually and personally, just on so many different levels. I had the opportunity to work here and be a student here. People like Wanda Valez, and Wanda Walborn–it was just huge to see women that are strong, that are living out their calling. It was pivotal for me, moving forward and knowing that God was calling me to be a leader too.”