Life in the First Year Lane is a series documenting the experiences of first year students in Madonna Hall as they begin their college journeys with Anna Maria College. From living away from home for the first time to joining clubs and sports teams and beginning their academic pursuits, the Class of 2027 has so many exciting milestones to look forward to! 

Emanuel “Manny” Rivas 

Major: Fire Science 

Hometown: Hartford, CT 

Manny’s presence at Anna Maria College is a major source of pride for his family since he is the first generation in his family to graduate from high school and the first to go to college.  

This life-changing accomplishment can add pressure at times, but the Fire Science major and football player is taking his classes and new dorm living experience one step at a time.  

As a hardworking high school student, Manny had already been accepted to 17 colleges before an Anna Maria football coach reached out to Manny on social media. Manny knew he wanted to be a firefighter but had trouble finding East Coast colleges that offered that major.   

“Anna Maria fit all the criteria that I was looking for in a college. I was offered an opportunity to play a sport that I love for the next four years, and I am not far from home, so it was perfect. It was an easy decision,” he said. 

Whether it is serving as a role model for his two young sisters or helping his community as a social justice advocate, Manny is dedicated to helping others which is why being a firefighter is the perfect match for his personality.  

“When I was in high school, I knew I wanted to be a first responder then I found out that firefighters not only fight fires, but they’re also paramedics and are the first on the scene,” Manny explained, “I think being a firefighter is my life’s purpose. I think my calling is to help other people and to save lives.” 

Manny is all about breaking stereotypes. He said that as a football player, people might presume him as one-dimensional, but he has layers and enjoys writing poetry, being a social justice advocate, and focusing on the benefits of positive mental health and communication. Manny was even given a certificate for being a youth changemaker by the National Conference for Community and Justice. 

As a first-generation student, Manny is thankful for college support like the Counseling Center which helps him deal with the pressures of college and for the comradery he experiences among his football team and fellow fire science majors.  

“The support from other teams and student athletes, not just my football team, is amazing. You take the positive energy that the players give you and then you give it back to them when it’s their turn to play. That type of support is cool and something you don’t really see in a lot of different colleges, so that’s one of my favorite things about Anna Maria for sure,” Manny said. 

However, at the end of the day, it is his family who always has his back. “Sometimes I feel the weight of everything but when I call my mom or dad, they remind me why I’m doing this. They always say, ‘I’m proud of you’, which motivates me.”  

Manny is having a blast exploring Massachusetts with his new friends and seeing his family back home in Hartford on the weekends. However, he remains dedicated to his goals of becoming a firefighter and one day coaching a youth sports team in his community. Giving back to others is Manny’s mission and it is demonstrated in the way he carries himself and treats those around him. 

“That’s all I have ever wanted since I was a kid, just to change the world. Even if I could change one person’s life for the better, that’d be more than enough for me,” he said.