The Dr. Kenyatta Rivers Memorial Scholarship
For his years of devotion to the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders
Kenyatta Rivers, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Central Florida, retired in August 2019 and sadly passed away on May 8, 2020. Dr. Rivers was a faculty member at UCF from 1996 – 2019. His areas of expertise were language disorders in school-age children, traumatic brain injury and multicultural issues.
Dr. Rivers was a devoted, conscientious and caring professor who touched the lives of thousands of undergraduate and graduate students over the course of his career. He was active with the McNair Scholars program at UCF, the National Black Speech-Language-Hearing Association (NBASLH) and the Florida Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists (FLASHA). Dr. Rivers served as a formal and informal mentor to a wide range of students in Communication Sciences and Disorders and beyond.
“In memoriam, Dr. Rivers has an honorary scholarship fund rewarding students who have made a commitment to mentoring others, his passion. Although I have previously provided some small contributions to it, I recently learned that it does not yet possess adequate funds for endowment, which would secure annual student awards in his name in perpetuity. As such, this would establish a well-deserved legacy for generational remembrance of this outstanding individual.” ~ Joe DiNapoli.
The Dr. Kenyatta Rivers Memorial Scholarship is a scholarship awarded to a graduate or undergraduate student in Communication Sciences and Disorders with an interest in mentoring others in the future.
Please consider expressing your gratitude for the contributions of Dr. Rivers at UCF and in the discipline of Communication Sciences and Disorders in the form of a donation to help endow the scholarship in Dr. Rivers’ name. By endowing this memorial scholarship, you will help ensure that future generations of students continue to be impacted by his Dr. Rivers and his legacy will live on.
Any amount is appreciated, and there are two easy ways to support.
At the bottom of the form, please fill in the tribute information to reflect “In Memory of Dr. Kenyatta Rivers.”
Donate via Mail
To give by mail, simply fill in “Dr. Rivers Scholarship” on the memo line of your check. You may send your donation to:
UCF College of Health Professions and Sciences
Attn: Office of Advancement
12805 Pegasus Drive
Orlando, FL 32816-2200
I had classes with Dr. Rivers in both undergraduate and graduate levels. I'm not sure that a day goes by in my professional practice that I don't think of one of his stories or anecdotes. He challenged his students to never settle. His zeal and passion for speech language pathology and the people we serve was contagious.
Dr. Rivers was a phenomenal professor who never failed to push out the best in you. Tough to some but genuine to all. One of the few professors that I will always remember. Thank you for making a change.
Kenyatta, there is not enough space on this page to describe the over 25 years of friendship that we shared upon entering UCF together. You and I shared a special bond...we went through much together, not always easy....but you and I knew the "real deal"...we supported each other, and were determined to do what we loved even in the midst of obstacles. We shared childhood stories of our upbringing, did research, travelled together, presented together, and understood the power of raising up the next generation of leaders. We were committed to mentoring our students. At the end of day, we had our long "catch up" conversations. We lamented and then laughed until we couldn't anymore. We always concluded our conversations by praying together. This was one of our favorites " “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:” 2 Timothy 4:7 I will see you again, Linda
I remember Dr. Rivers' amazing laugh, his generous spirit, and his dedication to students. He was always such a positive force in the department and he made a difference in so many students' lives. My thoughts are with his family and friends.
Dr. Rivers was my former professor, mentor, and after graduation became a friend. I would not be a SLP today without his guidance, encouragement, and knowledge he shared with me as my professor in graduate school. What I remember most were his daily quotes to start each class. My favorite was, "You attitude determines your altitude." He was also very quick to smile and laugh. His laugh was genuine and from the heart. This scholarship in his honor embodies what Dr. Rivers was about-mentoring. He was a mentor to me even when I didn't want one. I am now a mentor as well. So I want to say thank you Dr. Rivers. May God keep you, bless you, and protect you.
Your gigantic heart is what impresses me most about you. I knew we would be great friends when you revealed how you applied your tremendous faith to others in all circumstances. Perhaps a student or a colleague, a child to be saved, a family in need or perhaps a stranger in a hospital room. You were always there because you love God, revealing your true wisdom. This wisdom to me is the greatest of many attributes that you possess. You are a wise man indeed and you are admired and loved by me!!
Dr. Kenyatta O. Rivers I am blessed to have worked so closely with you and Dr. Glenda DeJarnette over the last 12 years as we planned and implemented our research agenda focused on pragmatics of African American children and adolescents, and issues related to culturally responsive practices. Working together was the most fun I have ever had while also engaged in collaborative research. I believe our work together was so much fun partly because you kept us laughing. There was not one ASHA or NBASLH convention where you didn’t have us doubled over with laughter. Even beyond the laughter, I appreciate that you are always concerned for the whole being – not just a person’s intellectual life, but one's physical and spiritual life. I love that we never started a presentation without you first saying, "Let us pray” and after that prayer we all knew that the presentation was going to be just fine. Thanks for being so generous with your ideas and your time, for sharing your humor, and being by brother.
I always appreciated Dr. Rivers’ dedication to my growth as a student. He cared about my interests and prepared me for being a professor. He gave me opportunities to challenge myself while also providing honest and thorough feedback. I always appreciated how he supported me through the learning process. He showed love to us as students through his kind words, smiles, and cupcakes. He left quite a legacy in the many mentees that he helped to develop. He will be deeply missed.
Dr. Rivers was my professor in my undergraduate program. He was not only an excellent educator, but also a believer in his students. He made himself available to answer questions and welcomed comments. This was so valuable in my college experience where I could easily blend in with such large class sizes. During office hours he put what he was working on aside to give his full attention and went above and beyond to answer any questions or provide additional information. He will be dearly missed!
He was the one of the kindest individuals I have ever met. I am not much of a social person and I do not network well but he sought me out to help guide me to my destination. He encouraged me as a black man and as a scholar. My greatest regret is not staying in touch as often as I would have but the world lost out on what little kindness is left when he passed. RIH Dr. Rivers
Dr. Rivers was so impactful in my collegiate and professional career (4.0 nothing below). Thank you Dr. Rivers for challenging me to think outside of the box and encouraging me to be great!! Because of you, I think more outside of the box, especially when it comes to differential diagnosis of minority children. Enjoy your well deserved retirement, hopefully you continue to attend NBASLH!! Prayers and blessings
I had the distinct pleasure of serving as Dr. Rivers' department chair for 5 years. I witnessed firsthand his dedication and commitment to UCF and its students, and our professional community. Many former and current students have shared with me the positive impact that Dr. Rivers had on their life, both personally and professionally. Dr. Rivers' contributions to UCF have been longstanding, and this scholarship is one way for those contributions to continue.
I met Dr. Rivers for the first time at the NBASLH Convention in Nashville when I was still a graduate student. I had no idea that I would be meeting someone that would change my life, my thought process, and my perspective on life. We sat and talked for about 3 hours. You never seemed bothered or frustrated by the questions I asked. Your honesty and transparency about life in general helped me so much. I remembered you bought me the NBASLH t-shirt, and you reminded me to pay it forward. I'm glad that I had to chance to meet you. I'm glad I had a chance to tell you a couple of years ago that I appreciated what you did for me. You will be greatly missed.
Dr. Rivers will always be remembered by me as an excellent mentor. He became my mentor in 2011 at the beginning of my Ph.D. program. I was always able to pick up the phone and speak to Dr. Rivers no matter how busy he was. I often had the opportunity to chat with him at both ASHA and NBASLH. Most recently in 2017, I saw him at the NBASLH convention when we both were on the NBASLH Board of Directors. He provided me with words of wisdom on things to do as a tenure-track professor to successfully receive tenure. I'm so glad to have had the opportunity to have him as a mentor and I've learned so much from him. His legacy will always be remembered. Thanks Dr. Rivers for your leadership.
Kenyatta was a colleague and friend to many. I will always value his imprint on my time here at UCF. He wore his genuine heart on his sleeve and seemed to invest in knowing others in such a unique way. It is no wonder he was so closely connected to so many in our university and local community.
Dr. Rivers was an extremely impactful part of my education. I learned so much about equity and access in his lectures, he was my favorite professor at UCF. His class was challenging, but his lectures were always full of energy and so engaging. I work now as a science communicator in the museum industry, I hope to one day be at least half the educator he was.
Thank you so much for being so instrumental to me professionally, as well as personally. I was fairly new to UCF at the time, and it meant so much! You have a lending ear and a CONTAGIOUS laugh, and look for ways to inspire others. Yes, a merry heart is like medicine! You have such a passion for higher education, and the desire to see students succeed, which I personally witnessed through the countless hours seeing you speaking to students. You were more of a mentor, even to me, and have definitely left a mark that can NEVER be erased! DR. RIVERS, KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK KNOWING YOUR LABOR HAS NOT BEEN IN VAIN! ? With Heartfelt Appreciation!
Dr. Rivers was one of the most influential professors I ever knew. His passion for the field was evident during every class. He taught me more about speech therapy with children than anyone else. His classes were not easy and neither were the assignments. But years after graduating, I understand why he wanted us to work as hard as we did. I’m forever thankful for the lessons I learned. I remember running into Dr. Rivers years after graduating. I never thought a professor, with all the students they teach each semester, would even recognize me. But he did. Because he sincerely cared about ALL of his students. It makes me happy knowing I was able to tell him about my success, because he was a big part of that.
Dr. Kenyatta O. Rivers, you have been a gift from God to me and I am grateful to call you Bro., friend, and colleague. I truly appreciate working with you to advance scholarship regarding cultural linguistic diversity. It is wonderful that this honorary scholarship acts as a legacy to encourage budding scholars committed to linguistic justice. Kenyatta, not only have you blessed me with your knowledge regarding our profession, but with your wisdom about life. You’ve taught me that “honor bestowed to one, brings glory to all.” You’ve shown that generosity that emanates from the soul is the only genuine kind. Kenyatta, thank you for sharing your humor and please know that I’ll always remain “Glenda Sue” to you! In a humble and balanced manner, to students and colleagues alike, you’ve demonstrated what it means to be a Christian who happens to be a Professor. Blessings to you, Brother in Christ, and sojourner through this life!
Dr Rivers invited myself and his Student Sukaina to present on the topic of SLP practices with diverse clients during two consecutive FLASHA conventions. This was my only exposure to this honorable personality. Dr Rivers radiated such positivity and enthusiasm that felt like we knew each other for a long time. I learned how such a knowledgeable person could be so humble and willing to learn more from his own students. UCF has lost a researcher, professor and mentor. The world had lost a noble personality who sought positive change in these difficult times. We pray for his family, colleagues and students to heal from this loss.
Dr. Rivers was one of the first professors I had as an undergraduate student at UCF. He challenged my thinking and growth then, and he continued to do so when I was a MA and a PhD student. He was a professor I looked up to, and felt humbled to be able to co-teach a class with him in recent years. Dr. Rivers never met a stranger, repeatedly went out of his way for his students and colleagues, and poured his heart and soul into his work. I am a better SLP and a better teacher because Dr. Rivers was in my life. He will be greatly missed!