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Brian Rivera '13: Exploring the Mind and Other Opportunities at F&M

  • Brian Rivera '13
  • Expanding his perspectives and studying the mind has been a journey at Franklin & Marshall College for Brian Rivera '13, and one that he intends to continue for many years to come. (Photo By Melissa Hess) 

A profile of Brian Rivera '13 is part III of "Faces of the Class of 2013," a series on the academic and extracurricular interests of graduating seniors.

Hometown: Los Angeles
Academic Major: Scientific and philosophical studies of mind

In his four years at Franklin & Marshall College, Brian Rivera '13 pursued with vigor his academic and athletic interests: philosophy, science, mathematics, martial arts and literature. In particular, he has focused on how the brain works.

"I'm interested in a lot of science subjects, but it was the mind that I have the most questions about," Rivera said.

Rivera said the major he chose at F&M, scientific and philosophical studies of mind, "fit exactly" with his interests in science, psychology and neuroscience.

In summer 2012, Rivera assisted Anthony Chemero, professor of psychology and scientific and philosophical studies of mind, on embodied cognition research, which holds that the mind, body and world mutually interact to influence one another in order for humans to successfully adapt.

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In deciding where he wanted to attend college, Rivera narrowed down his choice to just three. One of them was F&M.  He traveled from his hometown of Los Angeles to see the College, and that convinced him to enroll.

"When I visited F&M I could see myself here," he said. "I got a really good financial aid package that made it easier to come here."

It was the first time Rivera had left home. He came to the East Coast via College Match, which gives students regional tours of schools. Rivera toured schools in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Maryland, and visited Philadelphia, New York and Washington, D.C.

"That trip was my first time visiting these cities and being so far away from home," Rivera wrote in his F&M Voices blog. "I become hungry for the world and the endless possibilities. This made leaving home much easier because I wasn't leaving home completely; I was simply extending it to a city and a community far away."

For the fall semester of his senior year, Rivera studied abroad in Budapest, Hungary, in an intensive 14-week cognitive sciences program.

"It gave me a broader perspective," he said, noting he also had the opportunity to travel to Spain and Portugal. "It combined being abroad with rigorous coursework related to my major."

As a student-athlete, Rivera excelled in men's track & field. In the 2012 Centennial Conference Track & Field Championships, one of the nation's elite small college conferences, he took gold in the relay, two silvers in the hurdles, and silver in the long jump.

Rivera lived in Sustainability House, where he was a facilities manager, organizing events. "That was nice, to be part of a community that had this concern for environmental awareness," he said.

His extracurricular activities included work at the Office of Admission for four years, where he helped compile student data, helped at open houses, and served as a host to prospective F&M students.

Rivera intends to spend the summer after graduation working at the F&M College Prep summer immersion program for talented high-school students, then taking a year to prepare for graduate school, where he plans to continue studying science related to the brain.