Q&A with Health Care Service Manager and Vocalist Sayida Rivers ’96

1. What is your profession and how did Westfield State prepare you for your career?  

I am a Health Care Service Manager for the elderly; ensuring clients have the needed support to remain in their homes.  

WSC prepared me to earn my master's in social work (MSW/Group Work/Community Organization) from UCONN School of Social Work. WSC prepared me to use my BA (Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, English, and Music) and different aspects of my education in an ever-changing workforce climate. I worked for years with foster youth and their families and have been working with elderly clients for years. I coordinate services for the elders with their families and arrange services with neighboring agencies to provide elders with needed services in their homes.  

2. What is the most rewarding part of your work?  

The most rewarding part of my job is knowing my assistance allows elders to safely remain in their homes without needing to live in nursing homes. By coordinating workers to provide in-home cleaning, laundry, meal prep, shopping, and more services, I am proud knowing I am assisting elders in maintaining their independence. 

3. What is your favorite memory from your time at Westfield State?  

Learning from both the Urban Education Director Joan Fuller, Dr. Kamal Ali and spending time with Urban Education Student Peers, the 3rd World Organization, and spending time with the Residential Assistance Staff (I was an RA at Scanlon Hall for 3 of my 4 years at WSC). 

As a 17-year-old freshman at WSC, I met my husband, Karl Farmer Jr. ’95. We have been together for almost 30 years. Our 19-year-old daughter Nadia now attends Howard University. 

4. How did you start singing in choirs?  

After Graduate School/UCONN I often sang in Open Night events. Word got out that I was a vocalist. I accepted an offer to join the New England Conservatory Gospel Choir with Musical Director Donnell Patterson. Years later I was invited to join the Millennium Gospel Choir in Boston. It was this choir that afforded me the opportunity to travel to Johannesburg South Africa and Paris for a 2-week tour. While in Johannesburg, I was selected to sing a solo in the famous First National Bank Stadium aka FNB Stadium right before the famous Gospel Vocalist, Donnie McClurkin performed. While in Johannesburg, we also performed at many local churches and events. While traveling back to the States, during a layover, many choir members and I toured Paris; visited the Eiffel Tower, the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris, and many more sites before rushing back to the airport for our flight home. It was with the Joyful Voices of Inspiration Choir (JVOI) that invited me to join their tour to Germany; very exciting.  

5. What is your favorite part of being a choir member?  

Harmonizing and simply being able to praise Him with our voices was the highlight of my singing in all the choirs I was a part of. 

To hear Rivers sing, check out the following videos:

Rise Up - Old South Gospel Choir 

Seasons of Love

Sing Out March On - Old South Gospel Choir