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Humans of Scott: 2nd Lt. Rivera, Discovering Mayan Heritage

  • Published
  • By Jacob Silva-Dreyer
  • 375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs
For a long time, 2nd Lt. Laney Rivera’s heritage was unclear. Their family said Rivera’s great-grandmother on their father’s side might be Mayan, but it was only a rumor, no one knew for sure. It wasn’t until Rivera took a DNA test earlier this year that they realized it was true–Rivera is indeed of Mayan descent.

The ambiguous nature of Rivera’s heritage may have been because their father moved to Florida from Honduras when he was only 9 years old. He served in the Army for 23 years and was deployed in Colombia and Honduras. Rivera’s mother was also in the Army, but their words influenced Rivera towards the Air Force.

“They told me that everywhere they were deployed, the Air Force always had air conditioning and bullets,” Rivera said, “In a war, those sound like two pretty good things to have.” Today, Rivera is the flight commander to vehicle management in the 375th Logistics Readiness Squadron.

When Rivera’s father was learning English, he found that he wasn’t taken seriously because of his Spanish accent, so when Rivera was born, he opted not to teach them Spanish at all. Partially because of this, Rivera has not felt connected to their Hispanic or Native American heritage, though this is starting to change.

Since learning about their Mayan heritage, Rivera has become more involved with Hispanic and Native American groups, such as the Hispanic Empowerment and Advancement Team at Scott. Going to a Native American celebration, Rivera felt awkward not looking Native American, but they were welcomed with open arms regardless of looks.

“That’s not really what it’s about, it’s about lineage,” Rivera said. Rivera’s ethnicity is the important thing, and the Indigenous community helped Rivera find more resources to learn more about their Mayan heritage and become more involved.

Now, Rivera is focused on learning as much as they can about their heritage and becoming more involved so that it doesn’t become a family rumor again.

“I think it’s very important for me, in this lifetime, to figure out as much as I can and experience as much as I can so that it can be passed on, so that it’s not forgotten.”