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Nicholas Rivas

Exploring the Nonprofit World

Spring Graduate Receives First Gianneschi Fellowship

August 3, 2010

By Pamela McLaren

Three weeks after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a bachelor’s degree in communications, Nicholas Rivas began learning what it is like to work for the largest university system in the country: the California State University system.

He is the inaugural recipient of the Gianneschi Fellowship in nonprofit leadership, established to help graduates interested in pursuing a career in the nonprofit sector develop workplace experience utilizing interpersonal communication, research, creative thinking, writing, editing and team skills.

The fellowship was created to honor the late Harry R. Gianneschi, vice president for university advancement from 1991 to 2001. It is funded through the Cecil and Beulah Ballentine Endowments in Nonprofit Marketing and Nonprofit Research and from proceeds from the annual Summer School for Nonprofits.

“Harry Gianneschi was a gifted mentor and career coach to people at all stages of their careers. It is so fitting that this career-launching opportunity carries his name,” said Kathleen Costello, founding director of Cal State Fullerton’s Gianneschi Center for Nonprofit Research. “Future Gianneschi Fellowships will be funded by proceeds from the annual Summer School for Nonprofits training programs, so people will be helping to launch newcareers even as they’re advancing their own.”

“It has been so rewarding to be able to work with a group of people who are so passionate about students and education,” said Rivas, whose family lives in Diamond Bar. “The opportunity to work at the systemwide office of the CSU has provided a view into a totally different area of nonprofit work from what I have done before.”

Rivas developed an interest into nonprofit work following a year of study abroad in Sweden. “While I went into communications because I saw loads of potential in that area — and a way to express myself — the idea of working for a nonprofit meant I could go out and make a difference,” said Rivas.

“Nonprofits enhance our lives on a daily basis yet so few graduates consider pursuing jobs in the nonprofit sector,” said Lori A. Redfearn, assistant vice chancellor of advancement services and vice president of the CSU Foundation. “The Gianneschi Fellowship helps provide exposure to mission-driven careers that have high employee satisfaction.”

Since his overseas study, Rivas has worked with Global Green, where he “learned how large-scale organizations make an immediate impact on a community in need by utilizing its network and effective organizational culture.” He also served with Pedal Patch Community, where he “implemented campaigns to raise interest in our budding programs that establish urban gardens in Los Angeles.

“Working and volunteering with nonprofits has reaffirmed time and again my optimistic outlook on the world,” he said.

Rivas is working in the office of the CSU Foundation.

“It’s good to get exposure at a wide variety of nonprofit institutions and to be able to see how they operate at different levels. Here, I have the opportunity to see how the entire CSU system operates — it’s a whole different perspective than what I had as a student.

“The training and guidance I have received throughout my experience at CSUF and beyond has prepared me to enter any situation with thoughtfulness and confidence. I hope to take this experience and refine my skills to better serve communities in the future.”

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