Rivera follows love of improv back to Chicago

Gio Rivera ’17 helped form the Cornell College improv group The Freelance Cosmonauts his sophomore year. After graduation he’ll be heading back to Chicago to pursue a career in improv.

Gio Rivera '17
Gio Rivera ’17

“I learned what it means to be a leader through The Freelance Cosmonauts. Through the group I got to travel and perform improv from Chicago to South Carolina.”

Rivera received his degree in studio art, but used his time at Cornell to get a wide variety of experiences. He valued the opportunity to give his full attention to one specific topic for 18 days.

“My Cornell education was so valuable to me because the way it was formatted allowed me to pour all my time and energy into one class and soak up as much info as possible,” Rivera said. “One Course At A Time gave me a chance to focus each month.” 

Q: What is your biggest academic accomplishment?
A: My biggest academic accomplishment was when I went out on a limb to take an engineering class and ended up working on a project to make 3D printable cheap glasses frames for third world countries and the local news picked up our story.

Q: What are your post-Cornell plans?
A: After Cornell I plan on doing improv in Chicago and working part time in a comfortable job till I can commit myself full time to improv.

Q: What Cornell experiences prepared you for this?
A: My improv group The Freelance Cosmonauts prepared me for this. I learned about what it means to be a leader through them. I learned what it means to stand up to and for others in the name of a product and community you stand by and want to foster growth in. Through the group I got to travel and perform improv from Chicago to South Carolina.

Q: How did One Course At A Time impact your education?
A: Had I gone to a regular university I think I would have snapped under the pressure of taking so many classes at once. One Course At A Time gave me a chance to focus each month.

Q: What would you tell a prospective student about Cornell?
A: If there’s ever something you feel is missing from the campus community, just go ahead and make it exist. Chances are four other people want what you want to exist and they’re probably not gonna do it.

Q: What is the theme of your life? How do all of your interests tie together?
A: I have so many interests it’s hard to count. A few examples include Rubix cubes, coding, guitar, improv, game design, and others. I think the biggest theme in my life is understanding. The reason I’m drawn to such diverse hobbies is because I crave so much to understand how things work and how I can master them. I’m very curious.

Q: What surprised you most about your time at Cornell?
A: It went by so so fast. I thought four years would take forever but each year felt more fleeting than the last. Looking back I think I used my time wisely but I’m lucky I did. Had I not appreciated the time I had as much as I did, I would have missed so many amazing opportunities.

Q: Which part of campus has special meaning for you?
A: Merner Classroom has so many old memories at this point it’s hard to step into it without feeling a welling up in me. All my transfer friends and I would spend day after day in that room watching movies, doing homework, and just talking. I’ll never forget how it felt in there with them all.