Leadville: Snowboarding student gets $20k scholarship | VailDaily.com

Leadville: Snowboarding student gets $20k scholarship

Robert Allen
Summit County Correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado
Robert Allen/Summit Daily NewsMatt Rivera, a high-school dropout, receives his scholarship to attend Colorado Mountain College to learn about the ski industry.

LEADVILLE, Colorado ” Matt Rivera followed his passion for snowboarding from dropping out of high school to receiving a $20,000 scholarship to study ski-area operations.

He’s the first student to receive a scholarship for minority graduates offered by Vail Resorts that covers tuition, room and board, books and other fees, said VR public affairs manager Kara Heide.

“We didn’t pick you lightly. You had all the right pieces,” she said to Rivera at the

scholarship presentation Thursday.

Rivera will be attending the Colorado Mountain College Timberline Campus in Leadville, living in the residence hall. He said that after obtaining the associate’s degree, he hopes to work for Vail or perhaps Beaver Creek.

“Education is the way to go,” said Rivera, 19, adding that he may use his degree to help build terrain parks.

Before qualifying, he earned an alternative high-school diploma through Lake County School District’s diploma opportunity resource program.

Rivera dropped out of high school as a junior because of “personal stress going on.”

He worked in the concrete industry and at some restaurants before getting back into school. He’s also been couch surfing the past couple months as he waits for the semester to begin.

“Now I get to buckle down, do something that’s productive,” Rivera said.

Heide said Rivera really understands the industry and culture, and he could become an important asset to the business.

“Very few careers evolve with someone’s passion,” she said.

The scholarship also includes paid work experience at one of Vail’s Colorado resorts.

A Leadville resident all his life, Rivera has been snowboarding for several years. He said he enjoys the backcountry near the town and often visits Ski Cooper because of its proximity.

Some day he’d like to visit the slopes of the Swiss Alps or Alaska because the terrain “looks pretty steep and gnarly.”

“It’s something I have a passion for,” Rivera said. “I’m very excited.”

Support Local Journalism