Harvard Divinity School Professor | Mayra Rivera Rivera T’01, G’04,’05

By Bruce Wallace

Science and religion don’t always get along. In Mayra Rivera Rivera’s life, though, their relationship makes good sense. Before beginning to study religion full time—which led to degrees from Drew, four years teaching at the Pacific School of Religion and, last fall, an assistant professorship at Harvard Divinity School—Rivera spent over a decade working as a chemical engineer in her native Puerto Rico. She worked for Coca-Cola and consulted with a variety of pharmaceutical companies. “Engineering is about constructing models,” she says. “So there’s a form of analysis that involves a lot of abstraction even though it’s something very concrete. I think that helped me think theologically and philosophically.” Engineering ran in her family through her father. Theology she got from her mother, whose informal religious study group Rivera remembers overhearing as a girl. Her study deepened in a New Testament class taught by a Drew alum in Puerto Rico in 1998. She started at Drew the following year, getting a master’s in theological studies in 2001 and a Ph.D. in theological and religious studies in 2005. She says Drew gave her approach to theology “a broader sense of the relation between different realms of thinking.” She notes a similar sense developing at Harvard, signaled by the school bringing her and a specialist in Afro-Caribbean religion on board. Says Rivera, “In both cases that brings additional materials to the learning in the school.”

One Response to “Harvard Divinity School Professor | Mayra Rivera Rivera T’01, G’04,’05”

  1. YMTorres says:

    Just fascinating, Professor!
    You are an inspiration to us all. Much needed is the complex integration of the sciences with religion/theology/philosophy to be able to solve the complex problems of humanity!!!

    Prof. Yolanda M. Torres, RN, MSN, PhDs
    Associate Director
    School of Nursing
    Inter American University of PR
    Metropolitan Campus