Communication Sciences and Disorders

Associate Professor Kenyatta Rivers Leaves a Lasting Impact on Students and Profession

Written By: Audrey Ramos | May 15, 2020

Headshot of Kenyatta Rivers.
Associate Professor Kenyatta Rivers recently passed away. His devoted friends and family members, and UCF students, colleagues and alumni remember his dedication to his profession.

Kenyatta Rivers, a retired faculty member in the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders, believed in leading by example. He taught students how to improve the communication skills of children with speech and language disorders and people of all ages with traumatic brain injury. He did this not only through class instruction and assignments, but also by demonstrating how to lead through service and education. 

Rivers was passionate about guiding under-represented students to the profession he loved so much. He was active with the McNair Scholars Program at UCF, which prepares students from low-income, first-generation and traditionally underrepresented groups for doctoral programs; and the National Black Speech-Language-Hearing Association. He held many leadership positions over the years and contributed vastly to the Florida Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists. 

Rivers also served as a formal and informal mentor to a wide range of students and colleagues in Communication Sciences and Disorders and beyond. You could literally hear the impact of his relationships. It was a trademark of Rivers to shout a greeting across campus to bring a smile to the faces of colleagues and students. 

When Rivers retired last year, his colleagues established a scholarship in his honor to encourage students to lead as he did with humility, advocacy and a sense of humor. 

Recently, Rivers passed away. His legacy will continue through the many students and colleagues he mentored throughout the years and through his work as an ordained minister. 

The first recipient of the Dr. Kenyatta Rivers Memorial Scholarship is Ayanna Frederick, an undergraduate student in CSD who shares Rivers’ commitment to mentoring. Frederick says she has benefited from the wisdom and support of mentors throughout her life and wants to pay it forward.  She belongs to Crown to Crown, a UCF organization that mentors young girls in the community.  

Headshot of Ayanna Frederick.
Ayanna Frederick

“We strive to establish a safe space, friendship, support and insight from our personal experiences,” Frederick said. “Overall, our goal is to empower our mentees and cultivate their sense of self-worth.” 

Frederick said she is humbled to be chosen as the first recipient of the memorial scholarship and is grateful to continue Rivers’ mission of service through education and mentorship. 

“I believe it is my responsibility to instill the importance of self-love, confidence and a great work ethic in the generations who will look up to me and to those who follow in my footsteps, Frederick said.  

Through this memorial scholarship, UCF Communication Sciences and Disorders students will carry on Rivers’ commitment to faith, community and service to others. 

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