A true jack of all trades: a profile on Karen Valencia Rivera

When looking for a new hobby at the beginning of last semester, Karen Valencia Rivera stumbled upon beaded jewelry she had made during her childhood years. She recalled making them with her mom, which is why she brought them to college with her almost four years ago. 

“I had the urge to learn again,” Valencia Rivera said when asked why she started making them again so many years later.  

This is Karen’s last semester here at Concordia College in Moorhead Minnesota. She is a senior majoring in chemistry and hopes to achieve a certificate in entrepreneurship. She participates in various organizations on campus such as vocal choir, handbell choir, and the Latinx club.  

Valencia Rivera is considered one of the founders of the Latinx club, Latinx Organization for Achievement (LOA), along with Gissell Arevalo Martinez and Fabi Perez. They created the space during their freshman year at Concordia.

“LOA was for us, a place to escape,” said Arevalo Martinez.  

The first two years the club was just a space for these three friends to be themselves and feel comfortable. Last year they felt comfortable enough to share their group with the rest of the college. Arevalo Martinez said she took on more of a leadership role last year, along with her two friends.   


Karen Valencia Rivera sells beaded jewelry. | Paige Naughton

“Karen, Fabi, and I have been on the board,” said Arevalo Martinez.  

LOA has helped their friendship grow tremendously. Arevalo Martinez recalls meeting Valencia Rivera through a mutual friend Fabi Perez. 

“I met Karen and yes, there is no question or doubt whether we should or shouldn’t be friends,” said Arevalo Martinez.  

Valencia has been in the choir since her freshman year but this year decided to try something new: handbells. 

“I was always intrigued by it, but never had the courage,” said Valencia Rivera.  

This year she accompanied one of her friends to the first meeting and continued to stick with it. They played both before and after the Christmas concerts this year and will have at least one more concert this spring. Valencia Rivera estimates this will take place in April.  

Valencia Rivera has always been interested in starting her own business. “I took one [entrepreneurship] class, and I was like okay this is fun,” said Valencia Rivera.  

This is how she found out about the Cobber Collective, a space on Concordia College’s campus where students can develop their small businesses. Students can sign up for a time slot to be in the space, for whatever purpose. Whether that be to work on their business or make their products.  

The space was newly created this year and is located in the Grant Center. Valencia Rivera notes the space is small and homey, and that she enjoys the cool lights. It creates a great atmosphere to chill and work.    

Valencia Rivera created Beaded Jewelry by KV, where she handmakes beaded rings and bracelets, last semester.  

“I like that she decided to do it on her own,” said Arevalo Martinez. 

She noted that there is a women in business club on campus and was glad that Valencia Rivera didn’t choose that route for her business, pointing out the intersectionality of womanhood that clubs like women in business tend to miss. 

“She is a strong and powerful Latina, and she is setting foot for those who want to do business,” said Arevalo Martinez.  

The Cobber Collective has turned out to be a great resource for Valencia Rivera, she has used the space for making her jewelry as well as selling it, “Last semester I did have some good days,” said Valencia Rivera.  

This fall she mostly sold rings and some bracelets. Valencia Rivera attributes this to the fact that rings are the least expensive item she offers. This semester she wants to look into making necklaces, and definitely wants to sign up for a time slot in the Cobber Collective again.  


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