“Second Lieutenant” Has a Nice Ring

Second Lieutenant Joshua Rivera Perez graduation from Gonzaga University and the Bulldog Battlion Army ROTC.

May 30, 2024
Gonzaga University News Service

This is part of our series of 2024 Senior Stories.

Being a first-generation college graduate is a significant achievement in many families. Joshua Rivera Perez (’24) cherished that status along with a very official sounding title – Second Lieutenant – with his graduation from Gonzaga University and the Bulldog Battlion Army ROTC program this May.

Born in Heidelberg, Germany, Rivera Perez moved around his entire life with his parents, both of whom were enlisted in the U.S. Army. And then he received a scholarship to attend Gonzaga.

As he wrapped up his degree in human physiology, he became the first person in his family to have attended a university and the first to be commissioned as an officer.

"It truly hit me as I was filling out paperwork for graduation. I needed to confirm the pronunciation of my name for when I would be called to walk across the stage. And the name and title they had on file shocked me. I was not listed as Mr. Joshua Rivera Perez, but as Second Lieutenant Joshua Rivera Perez."

“When I receive my degree, I will be a leader in the United States Army, and hold a bachelor’s degree while also being completely debt-free,” Rivera Perez said. “That is what this title represents to me.”

Rivera Perez, as with many first-gen students, had to “learn a lot about college culture that others may have been taught by their families” and he felt he “sacrificed a lot to earn and keep my scholarship.” But, he says, “That has only added to the adventure this stage in my life has brought me, and I will bring these new experiences with me as I move into the next part of my journey.”

He joined nine other graduates of the ROTC program in being commissioned as officers this year.

See other 2024 Senior Stories.