Missouri State University
Gabriela Carroll Rivero

Gabriela Carroll Rivero

  • Major: Biology
  • Second Major: Biology
  • High School: Parkview High School
  • Hometown: Bogotá

Cultivating curiosity and community

Gabriela Carroll Rivero is fascinated by the world around her, and she’s made it a mission to explore that curiosity.

Gabriela Carroll Rivero is not a passive observer of the world.

She’s an active explorer driven by a deep connection to the environment with which she interacts.

“I am most passionate about the organisms and systems around us and how we can implement that knowledge to protect and preserve them,” Carroll said.

Carroll was first introduced to Missouri State University as an international student of the English Language Institute (ELI) during the summer of 2014. Several of her family members also attended the ELI. Her sister, Paula, even returned to Missouri State to pursue her own degree.

Originally from Bogotá, Columbia, Carroll grew fond of Missouri State’s welcoming culture toward international students. Little did she know at the time, she would soon be employed at the ELI as a student worker while pursuing her undergraduate degree.

Sprouting the seeds for success on campus

In Spring 2023, Carroll completed a Bachelor of Science in Biology, wildlife and fisheries option with minors in both chemistry and sustainability.

She chose Missouri State for the kind reception of international students and for the affordable tuition compared to the quality of education.

As an undergraduate, Carroll quickly developed a deep appreciation for field research.

“I think people miss out on how beautiful biology can be because it can feel so distant when studying it in a classroom,” Carroll added.

In her senior year, she won second place in Biology at the CNAS Undergrad Research Symposium for her investigation into the chatter patterns of Carolina Wrens.

Immersing herself in the student experience, Carroll found a sense of purpose and community through her involvement with student organizations.

“Being part of the Campus Garden was one of my favorite experiences at MSU,” Carroll added, reflecting on her time as an assistant manager and later as manager of the garden. “I would not trade that experience for anything in the world.”

Carroll has also been an active participant in improving Missouri State’s sustainability practices, having contributed as a Sustainability Intern on the MSU Waste Management Team and a member of the Sustainability Advisory Committee.

She helped guide the transition of the Green Student Alliance into Students for a Sustainable Future as President in 2023, leading the way for a more collaborative approach to sustainability on campus.

Exploring beyond the boundaries of the classroom

Carroll is now working towards a master’s degree in biology with plans to continue her education.

“I am hoping to obtain a PhD in the future and become a faculty member at a university,” Carroll said. As a graduate teaching assistant for Tina Hopper, Carroll has gained experience instructing introductory biology courses.

“I look forward to teaching so much and I am so happy I get to do this,” she added, citing a love for connecting the students with “the bigger-picture concepts of biology.”

“Biology is so fascinating and incredibly engaging.”

“I am so thankful I get to investigate the processes inside and outside of my body, including the ecosystems and organisms around me,” Carroll said.

She is also continuing her research in one of her favorite areas of study: birds.

Carroll’s thesis focuses on the species distribution of the rare Swainson’s warbler in Southwest Missouri as well as the use of new technology for ecological surveying.

“A lot of my biology undergraduate courses were also graduate courses, so I feel as though I was properly trained for the workload,” Carroll added.

Her experiences in the field and the classroom have pushed Carroll to think deeply and discover an immense amount of knowledge about the complex world we live in, something she is excited to continue.

From her roots as an international student to her current academic pursuits, Carroll has embraced every opportunity to explore the wonders of the natural world and contribute to its preservation.

“I have grown so much since I moved. I have made my own little community here,” Carroll said. “It may feel daunting to start a new life in a different country, but so many beautiful things can come from it.”

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