By Jay Privman
Andy Rivera is on-track to graduate from medical school at the University of Tulane in 2023, something the son of an assistant trainer said has been achieved through the help of the Gregson Foundation.
For seven years now — through undergraduate work at Northern Arizona University, graduate work at Tulane, and now at the Tulane School of Medicine, ranked as one of the best in the country — Rivera has been supported by the Gregson Foundation. It’s not just the financial support that has made a difference, he said, but the emotional support, too.
“The Gregson Foundation has been a huge source of encouragement,” Rivera said recently from New Orleans, where Tulane is located. “The group believes in my abilities. They’ve been very supportive, following my journey.”
Rivera, 27, has made the most of his opportunities. He is currently in his second year of medical school at Tulane after receiving a masters there in microbiology and immunology. Before going to medical school, he worked as a researcher at the University of Arizona, helping to develop therapeutic treatments for cancer.
Rivera said he’s not sure what his specialty will be by the time he graduates and becomes Dr. Rivera. He’s interested in several areas of medicine, with neurology currently atop the list.
“We start rotations in May — surgery, OB-GYN, family medicine, then electives, all that lasting about a year,” Rivera said. “My first board exams are in April.”
Once Rivera graduates as a doctor of medicine, he’ll then be a resident for whatever specialty he decides to pursue, followed by a fellowship.
Getting into Tulane’s medical school was a photo finish. Rivera was wait-listed, and had made plans to go to a college in New York if Tulane didn’t work out. Then he got a call from one of his favorite professors.
“What are your plans?” she asked. Told by Rivera he was likely to head to New York, she replied, “Any way we can change your mind?” He was in.
Costs for both housing and studies are steep, and that’s where the Gregson Foundation’s financial support has helped.
“It’s a tremendous help. Anything goes a long ways,” Rivera said.
Rivera became eligible for the Gregson Foundation’s scholarship support owing to his father, Felipe Rivera, being a long-time employee on the Southern California circuit, currently as an assistant to trainer Michael McCarthy.
Two members of the family are Gregson scholarship recipients. Rivera’s half-brother, Alexander Rivera, is studying kinesiology at the University of LaVerne in Southern California.
Rivera said he appreciates all that the Gregson Foundation has done for him, and enjoys hearing from staff.
“They’ve been incredibly encouraging,” he said. “And it’s cool to see their excitement, hear the nice things they have to say about me. It’s a great support system.”