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Star Students

Joel Rivas

17 Years Old

Leadership Public Schools High School

Joel Rivas of Hayward (Alameda County), is a 17 year old at Leadership Public Schools High School with an interest in video game software development.

There is no doubt that creativity is one of the most valuable human assets. Without it, Joel Rivas could not show his passion for creating video games at the age of 17. “I enjoy being creative," says Rivas, the star student at Leadership Public Schools. “I like to discover things that no one else has thought of.” Joel's personal interest for creating video games is based in part on their storytelling aspect, and how he hopes they will have a lasting effect on the people that play them. “I want to be able to send my message, but send it in a fun, interactive way,” Rivas explains. “I want to create characters that will have an effect in the world that surrounds me; I want my imagination and creativity to take flight.” Creativity, as defined by Joel, is the ability to step outside the box and do things differently than what others expect of him. It’s simply to express his thoughts and imagination!

Joel has created his own software and is aware of the impact of how video games have changed everyday life and how they can attract a general audience via PS3, Xbox, Wii and other gaming systems. “I would like to shed light on problems or situations that occur in real life. I would like to transmit that through a message in a way that doesn’t cause gamers to lose interest. The best way to do that is through a game; I could create my own story, showcase it and make others see its effects,” the 17-year-old explains. That’s why Joel's goal is to become a very capable gamer, immersing himself in the world of gaming. In the event that he doesn’t become an expert gamer, he says nothing would stop him from continuously trying until he becomes the best at all he does...enjoying the journey and experience along the way.

Joel is the son of Silvia Rivas of Guadalajara, and Jose Alfredo Rios of Mexicali. He has two sisters: Stephanie, 22, who is attending her last year at UC Davis where she's studying to become a pediatrician; and Briana, 18, who is a high school senior. “Joel is a good, loving kid. He is appreciative of the simple things we do for him,” says his mother. “He is a very good student and is thankful even for the food we put on the table, or when we help him with his homework.” Joel plans to attend UCLA, UC Davis, UC Berkeley, or the University of New Hampshire. He is also an advocate for social justice, thanks in part to Ms. Ferguson, Advanced Placement US History teacher at the Leadership Public Schools in Hayward. “Joel is a stellar student,” Ms. Ferguson says. “He is interested in forensic science, but more so in computer science – the creation of videogames. Ms. Ferguson was able to see Joel’s talent, and what he needs in order to succeed in his career. With so much maturity for his age, Joel remains focused in order to succeed in higher education like his sister Stephanie, or to be like his teen “genius” sister Briana who also attends his high school, and has a 4.3 GPA!