Alumni

Elaine Rivera Rios



“BUILD allowed me to explore topics I wouldn’t have otherwise had the opportunity to explore.”

From High School Entrepreneur to Pursuing Entrepreneurship in College

When she was a BUILD student, Elaine Rivera Rios never imagined she’d eventually study entrepreneurship in college and one day pursue a career as a BUILD teacher herself.

At Woodside High School, Elaine was the CFO of Flame Styles, overseeing the sales of handcrafted, custom table lamps. She remembers selling the product at the Holiday Bazaar and winning second place in the annual Business Pitch Competition.

“BUILD allowed me to explore topics I wouldn’t have otherwise had the opportunity to explore. It influenced me to pursue Entrepreneurship courses in college.” The opportunity to see real-world outcomes from the work she put into her venture – like earning money and meeting new people – is what kept her engaged in the program.

As a BUILD student, Elaine appreciated how each part of the curriculum was project-based with clear milestones to stay focused on her goals and gain the skills necessary to achieve them.

Transitioning into college, Elaine also found the skills taught in BUILD supported her in the classroom. “BUILD taught me how to give a clear presentation, which has allowed me to stand out professionally as a confident, detail-oriented, and organized person.”

Elaine described how she saw some of her peers in college struggle with self-management and were unable to find balance in their schedules with more rigorous classes. While some students were accustomed to college-prep classrooms that provided structured time for completing assignments and preparing for exams, BUILD’s experiential curriculum helped Elaine take initiative in pursuing her academic and personal goals.

BUILD Inspires a Career in Education

After graduating college, Elaine started her career as a teacher by chance. When her local school district posted a position searching for teachers from nontraditional backgrounds, Elaine decided to step outside of her comfort zone to apply.

During the job interview, her experience as a facilitator in a BUILD sophomore classroom gave her the teaching credentials she needed to earn her position on the team. She was able to speak confidently about curriculum implementation, organizing agendas, event planning, and helping students meet learning objectives. Today, Elaine teaches English and English Language Development to students at Menlo-Atherton High School- the same school where she facilitated the BUILD curriculum.

When she started working full-time in the classroom, she realized that core components from BUILD’s teacher professional development influenced her teaching practice. For example, building community in the classroom by providing affirmations and having students acknowledge each other were key components Elaine implemented that she did not find in the traditional high school curriculum.

“BUILD stands apart from other college-prep programs because it empowers students to develop skill sets that transcend the typical high school curriculum and allow for personal growth that’s valuable in the workplace and the classroom.” Elaine saw how BUILD prepared students from under-resourced communities to step into workplaces and higher education classrooms where they were underrepresented. Students strengthened their communications skills through delegating tasks to team members, articulating their product vision with a graphic designer, or selling their product during a pitch competition.

By providing comprehensive opportunities for mentorship from volunteers representing various work sectors joining the classroom to ongoing support from BUILD staff, Elaine states “BUILD creates a classroom environment that makes students and teachers feel valued and invested in.”