Peruvian professor becomes American

If students have ever studied Spanish at Missouri Western, they’ve likely had at least one class with Dr. Miguel Rivera-Taupier. The professor teaches several beginning Spanish courses and specializes in Spanish literature. This past November, Rivera was granted United States citizenship, but said the process really started as far back as ten years ago.

Rivera graduated with a B.A. in Spanish Linguistics and Literature from Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru in his home country of Peru. He went on to pursue a Master’s degree in Spanish Literature from Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana. Rivera was able to live in the country for several years with a student visa.  It was after this time that Rivera said he began the process to get a green card to be a resident alien in the US.

“It was time consuming and there’s not many things you can do besides wait. You don’t know how long you’ll have to wait because you don’t have much information.”

Rivera sought after a green card for permanent residency around the time he was finishing his dissertation for his Ph.D.  at the University of Virginia. Educators can receive a working permit for one year in the field in which they have gotten a Ph.D.

Anyone who does not find a job within a year of graduation faces deportation back to their home country.

“At this point I was nervous I could run out of time because it was one or two years after the market crash in 2008,” Rivera said. Everything lined up perfectly as Rivera received his Ph.D. and was able to find a teaching position shortly after.

Students that have had Rivera in class know him to be easygoing and very supportive. Kristen Smith, senior, had Rivera as a professor for SPA 101.

“I remember him being such a hoot in class. He would always make the funniest facial expressions when I asked all my questions,” Smith said.

While some students only had Rivera for one semester, Spanish majors at the university spend a majority of their college career working with the professor. Former student Kristen Clements got to know the professor very well.

“Dr. Rivera is an excellent professor. He always pushed me to see new perspectives and was willing to work with me one-on-one when I struggled with my classes. He cares deeply about his students,” Clements said.

Students not enrolled in his courses can meet Rivera by attending any of the cultural events hosted by the Spanish Club or by becoming a member of the club themselves.