#WeAreElliott: Josué Rivera Rivera

Josué visiting the Elliott School for the first time during the pandemic in May 2021. His family called the picture “historic”. Text: Josué  Rivera Rivera, Master of International Policy and Practice, 2023, #WeAreElliott

Josué Rivera Rivera was born in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and during the past decade has lived, worked, and studied in different countries within Latin America. Before coming to the Elliott School, Josué was leading a team of 46 people in 4 countries, working to address the dire situation of migrant children and their families in Central America and Mexico, having assisted over 50,000 people. His work on migration in the region expanded over 13 years in different roles. He has served as Consul to Honduras in Los Angeles, CA, where his work focused around the challenges migrants face once they arrived in the U.S., including family reunification and deportation, leading to his promotion to oversee migration affairs at the Honduran Embassy in Mexico City. The complex political situation in Honduras pushed Josué to stay in Mexico, where he became an international affairs advisor to both the Mexican House of Deputies and the Mexican Senate. He worked with legislators at a time of shifting U.S. migration policy; with those policies having severe effects on migrants in the U.S., Mexico, and the rest of the region. Josué holds postgraduate degrees in International Affairs and in International Cooperation and Development and is currently a Master of International Policy and Practice (MIPP) candidate at the Elliott School of International Affairs. He serves as the Co-Graduate Liaison of LATAM@GW. At George Washington University, he started doing longboarding (street not surfing) at 38 years old and loves it. He collects vinyl albums and loves learning about the inspiration behind songs and albums and to experiment while cooking or making cocktails.

What has been your favorite experience at the Elliott School so far and why?

The opportunity to have incredibly engaging conversations with faculty, classmates and people I meet on a daily basis. I do not exaggerate when I say that every day. I learn more about the world we live in, about other people’s perspectives, and about what makes the Elliott School such an exceptional place.

What courses have you found most helpful in your work experience and how have they been useful?

Dr. Robert Maguire’s Bottom-up development class had a great impact in my career. I was leading a team of 46 amazing humanitarian workers in 4 countries that offered assistance to over 50,000 people in need of international protection, and the learnings and tools from the class helped us to better listen to their needs, be more respectful of their dignity, and understand that what we do is enhance the opportunities of better outcomes for them by offering more choices. The real work is done by the people when they are given the chance. I honestly believe this class should be mandatory.

Describe the pros and cons of being a full-time or part-time student at the Elliott School.

It’s all about the cost of opportunity. With so many things going on at the Elliott School, events, opportunities to learn and network, you will need to optimize your time to best suit your interests and goals. One big advantage is that the people that attend the Elliott School are amazing, not only academically and professionally but also simply outstanding human beings. It makes it easier to have a social life while engaging with people who are passionate about the world and are also fun to hang out with.

What resources or strategies have proven to be the most valuable in helping you reach success at the Elliott School?

Taking advantage of the professor’s office hours, they are very accessible. The way I describe it, you get to have your own personal master class with someone who has so much knowledge, but that is also willing to learn from you. Just imagine the fantastic value in that.

What advice do you have for prospective students who are comparing a graduate program at the Elliott School with other DC grad schools?

Don’t think twice about choosing the Elliott School. Your expectations are not even close to what you will experience and to the opportunities available at our school. I will be more than happy to persuade anyone on how the Elliott School is the best place to be.

If you could have dinner with any 1 person from history, who would it be and why?

Congressman Charlie Wilson. While I was doing my first masters in Mexico City, I was asked to present an assignment on what I considered to be an outstanding example of international cooperation. Congressman Charlie Wilson had come to my attention because of the 2007 movie about him, and I was able to read the actual book, watch documentaries and go deeper into how he helped coordinate the efforts between the US, Pakistan, Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and China among others, to liberate Afghanistan from the Russian invaders. That last part may sound familiar today, however, the coalition of countries he put together would be unthought of in present times. It gives me hope that regardless of our political, cultural, or religious differences we can come together for the greater good. His determination and charm helped change the world.


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The #WeAreElliott profile series is managed by the Elliott School Office of Graduate Admissions and highlights current students to answer common questions posed by prospective, incoming, and current students. For more information on this series or to submit questions, e-mail the Office of Graduate Admissions at esiagrad@gwu.edu.

The views expressed by students profiled do not necessarily represent those of organizations they work for, are affiliated with, or the Elliott School of International Affairs.