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International Relations Alumnus Giving Voice to Immigrants through CASA

Kyle on the Capitol's steps during protest with CASA

CASA, formerly the Central American Solidarity Association of Maryland, has expanded to include surrounding states. The nonprofit organization’s mission is “to create a more just society by building power and improving the quality of life in working class and immigrant communities.”

A recent graduate of York College's International Relations program, Kyle Rivers ’20, has found his ideal role in the ranks of CASA in the York community. “I’ve always been passionate about politics and policy and I knew that I wanted to do something along those lines,” says Rivers. With CASA having a large presence in his home state of Maryland and now expanded to include Pennsylvania, Rivers is helping to make a difference in the lives of immigrants in the York community. “Our membership is primarily made up of Latino immigrants,” he says. “We work to amplify their voices in the community that they live in.”

Taking on the Voice

From day one of his position with CASA, Rivers has been in the thick of the action. He has emceed for protests, spoken to media, and worked to further the mission of the nonprofit. “My first action with CASA was actually my second week at work,” he says. “It was at the Capitol Building and I didn’t know what to expect.”

As an Advocacy Specialist, a newly created position, Rivers has found the perfect fit for him and it came at the perfect time he says. “I think the thing I enjoy most is helping put power in the hands of our members,” says Rivers. “It’s meaningful to be a part of that.”

Finding Home

As a student, Rivers was very involved at York College. A member of the men’s swimming team, he often could be found practicing at the pool or spending time with his teammates. “Being a part of the swim team is my favorite memory. My swim team became my family,” he says. Rivers also worked in the Grumbacher Sport and Fitness Center where he became a Building Supervisor.

Rivers was also very involved academically. One of his first classes on campus with Lecturer in Sociology Adrienne Brenner, led him to become a peer fellow his sophomore year for one of Brenner’s classes. “She’s always been a really good resource for me,” he says.

Rivers chose to study International Relations as the program allowed for more depth in politics and policy. He had the privilege of going on the Chemistry Society trip to Costa Rica. “I got to go to a different country and experience a different culture and see how they’re tackling climate change. They are net zero carbon emissions [meaning less than what they are producing],” says Rivers. “It was relevant to see how advanced they are.”

When Rivers visited the YCP campus for Accepted Student Day, he doubted the speech about how well alumni are employed right out of college or soon after, but now he believes it and is an example himself. “I was like, there’s no way,” he laughs. “I felt really prepared to enter the workforce and make a change in the world.” While already a confident individual, Rivers says York College helped to further that confidence.