Sofia Rivera: Using art to inspire

Sofia Rivera from Oakhurst, New Jersey is an art education and studio art double major with a minor in art history. Rivera has been honored with numerous awards from the Department of Art, including the CLAS Dean’s Exhibition Award and the Department of Art Elizabeth Graves Fine Art Scholarship award for outstanding performance in art education. She also is a James S. Stevens Outstanding Junior. 

Rivera has recently led and collaborated on two projects with the Blue Hill Heritage Trust, where she helped write and illustrate a children’s book, and create a cookbook — two projects to help raise awareness and rebuild the Surry Forest. After graduation, Rivera plans to become a full-time art teacher in Maine, as well as find ways to sell her artwork as much as possible. 

Why did you choose to come to UMaine?
When I was looking for a school to attend, I realized that UMaine was the only school that had everything I wanted in terms of education, environment, and location. The close-knit feeling of campus and the ability for me to succeed in my pursuit to learn more about art, as well as achieve my teacher’s certification in Art Education made this school the perfect one for me. Also, I love the snow!

What difference has UMaine made in your life and how has it helped you to reach your goals?
UMaine has helped me reach my goals by giving me an intimate and thorough education in my field of study. I have made lifelong connections through my attendance at this school, as well as found new interests and talents that will surely last a lifetime.

Can you think of a specific experience at UMaine that has changed or shaped the way you see the world?
The biggest experiences at UMaine that has shaped the way I see the world came from my education classes, learning how multiculturalism, the environment, and art as a whole can truly change the life of any given student. It’s helped me grow in my passion of wanting to teach, and it has given me the skills and understanding to do it well.

Has there been any particular initiative, program or set of resources that has helped you succeed at UMaine?
One program that has helped me immensely during my studies is the ArtWorks! Program, held every semester and run by junior level students in the Art Education Program. It provides students with the opportunity to teach in a laboratory class, before formal student teaching while still incorporating the main aspects of teaching. It was so helpful to be able to teach students in a smaller, more informal format before being thrown into student teaching, and it really helped me to be more comfortable and confident in the classroom.

Have you worked with a professor or mentor who made your UMaine experience better?
Constant Albertson has made my entire experience at UMaine more enjoyable. She is holding the entire Art Education program up by herself, and she continues to provide top-notch education and advice to her students whenever they need it. She has become a great mentor, teacher and friend, and I know I can count on her for support and advice, now and in the future.

Do you have any advice for incoming students to help them get off to the best start academically?
As important as academics are, it’s also important to take care of yourself and take time to do things you enjoy. Don’t feel like you’re wasting time if you’re not always doing homework or seemingly being productive, because doing things for yourself is just as important as your education.

Contact: Hope Carroll,