As a board member at the Hispanic Leadership Coalition of Northeast Indiana (HLCNI),
Nikolaos Rivera has seen the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on northeast Indiana’s
Hispanic and Latino communities.
Rivera, who will graduate from Trine University this month with an exercise science
degree, used that experience as the basis of his honors research project for the university,
which he hopes will be a springboard for graduate work.
“After it's been thoroughly polished, I would love to have it published in some form
as well,” he said.
Rivera got the idea to focus on COVID-19’s impact on the Hispanic and Latino community
while working with the HLCNI over the summer. The organization faced increased requests
for financial assistance and worked to educate its community on the importance of
seeking medical treatment and maintaining social distancing protocols.
“I felt that the problems being tackled by the Hispanic and Latino communities were
unique and nuanced among the general population,” he said.
As he researched the topic, he expanded the scope to compare Hispanic and Latino problems
during COVID-19 with issues faced by refugee populations around the world.
“Dr. Cathy Swick and Prof. Lauren Kocsis both helped me expand the topic to include
refugee and migrant populations worldwide,” he said. “We created a meta-analysis that
I'm very proud of.”
Locally, he found that factors such as financial instability, less access to healthcare
and cultural and language barriers contributed to increased COVID-19 impact on the
Hispanic and Latino community. His conclusion recommends steps such as increased food
support and making sure literature is available in needed languages and dialects.
Rivera first became aware of HLNCI three years ago while a student at Ivy Tech, when
he received one of the organization’s annual scholarships for low-income, Hispanic
“Ever since then, I've become more and more involved in the organization to the point
that in December of 2019 I applied for and was named a board member of the organization,”
He has been accepted to Northwestern University to pursue a Master of Public Health
degree. He hopes eventually to work to improve upon minority health on a national
level and the healthcare of refugees globally.
Trine University’s Honors Program is open to students who maintain a 3.5 or higher
GPA. Students who complete an approved research or extended service or opportunity
earn Honors Program with Distinction upon graduation.
Photo: Nikolaos Rivera speaks during Diversity Sunday in 2018, presented by Trine University's
Multicultural Student Organization at the First Congregational United Church of Christ
in Angola. Rivera recently completed an honors research project at Trine focusing
on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on northeast Indiana’s Hispanic and Latino
Last Updated: 12/04/2020