Leadership Starts with the Individual’s Story
Shayla Rivera
Aerospace Engineer & Rocket Scientist with NASA

Shayla Rivera is an Aerospace Engineer and former Rocket Scientist
with NASA turned salesperson, corporate trainer, and now Int’l Keynote
Speaker, TEDx Speaker, TV & Radio host, Emcee/Host, Comedian,
Actor, Writer, Producer, Seminar Facilitator, Panel Moderator and as of
2017, Director of the ENGR[x] program and Professor of Practice with
the College of Engineering at Texas A&M University.

However, none of these labels tells you much about her. She best
describes herself as a spiritually irreverent Mystic and Awareness
Expert. What many would call a Renaissance Woman.

Keynotes include subjects that span Inspiration, Motivation, Leadership,
Diversity & Inclusion, Education, STEM Education, Awareness, Stress
Management, Communication, and Self Growth, always using the power
of humor and her life story.

Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Rivera grew up with an avid interest in
human behavior, science, machinery and fixing things. Her parents
always made it clear that going to college was the way to go in order to
have a successful personal and professional life. Rivera attended Texas
A&M University, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace
Engineering with a great number of additional credits in her other
passion, Psychology. After graduation she joined McDonnell Douglas
Space Systems at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, where she
worked on the NASA Space Shuttle and Space Station programs for five

Rivera left NASA to pursue her abiding interest in psychology, trying to
figure out what makes people tick. This pursuit took her through several
years in Technical Sales of environmental systems and water treatment
chemicals, financial products and finally guiding her onto becoming a
corporate trainer. Rivera began facilitating life-changing seminars on
stress management for executives at companies around the country.
Shortly thereafter, she began giving motivational speeches. While
conducting seminars and giving speeches, Rivera discovered her
comedic skills. Encouraged by many of her clients she signed up for a
weekend seminar on stand-up comedy, at the end of which she
performed a five-minute routine. It was a personal turning point. “I
knew I’d found what I was looking for,” Rivera recalled.

Almost immediately, Rivera became a regular at Comedy Clubs
nationwide. She used her experiences to create the hit one woman show
“Rocket Science and Salsa,” directed by Debbie Allen for which Rivera
earned a “Best Lead Actress” nomination by the NAACP Theater
Awards, as well as a nomination for “Best Choreography” for Allen.
Rivera hosted the 13 episode TV series “You’re Not The Man I Married”
for Lifetime Real Women Network and has appeared on television
shows such as “Comics Unleashed,” “Xtreme Fakeovers,” “National
Lampoon’s Funny Money,” “Funny is Funny” and many others. She has
been a guest on the “The Dennis Miller Show,” “The Roseanne Show,”
”The Martin Short Show,” was featured in the “Paul Rodriguez Latin All
Stars” and was part of the Comedy Central special, “Comedy Rehab”
with Paul Rodriguez. She has performed and headlined on
entertainment programs for Univision, Galavision, HBO Latino and on
“The Latino Comedy Jam” for Telemundo. She was named “Funniest
Latina Comedian” by the organization “Latin 2015.”

Shayla Rivera has been speaking and performing in both English and
Spanish for 27 years and has a broad appeal to men and women of all
backgrounds and ages. Her clients around the world include Fortune
500 companies, national and regional organizations, as well as students,
parents and faculty from elementary schools to colleges. In 2018,
Shayla spoke at the TEDx conference at Texas A&M University. Rivera
often applies her expertise to host/emcee many fundraising events for
non-profit organizations, charitable and educational programs as well as
Award Galas and Conferences.

In 2004, Rivera received the “Mario Moreno Cantinflas Award”
presented by the city of Los Angeles in recognition of entertainers who
“represent the Latino Community with the same humor as the great
Comedian Cantinflas did” and for her involvement in the community. In
2007, Rivera received the President’s Volunteer Service Award from the
President’s Council on Service Participation. In 2010, she received the
Award for Excellence in Public Speaking by the Latino Speakers

Rivera performs live stand-up comedy worldwide and is extremely
proud of her comedy and speaking tours for our servicemen and women
stationed around the world in Greenland, Diego Garcia, Asia, Europe,
Central America and the Middle East.

Rivera says, “My number one goal is to inspire, through laughter.” She
has seen, first-hand, the impact the Latino population and culture has
had in all levels of American corporations, organizations and education,
and is focused on helping make this merging occur as smooth as
possible. She jokes, “We are all the same, only different…once we
understand this, we will be able to seize the opportunities that lie in our
seeming differences.”

Shayla was thrilled to accept faculty and staff positions at her alma
mater, Texas A&M University. Shayla, who is a true Aggie, is very
excited to bring her expertise in self-development and awareness to the
engineering students at Texas A&M as a Professor of Practice and as
Director of ENGR[x], a new program with the objective of providing
undergraduate engineering students with professional skills and
experiences beyond their engineering degree requirements, making them
more attractive to employers. Helping students become better prepared
for life, not just as an engineer but as an individual, which is her greatest

Shayla Rivera is not easily placed in just one category or class, she
defines her own. She finally remarks, “Now I even can add Breast
Cancer Survivor to my resume. I am grateful.”