Success Stories

Nursing student, soccer player Justin Rivest has his eyes on the goal

Justin Rivest

Justin Rivest

As one of three goalkeepers on Western Connecticut State University’s LEC Champion Men’s Soccer Team, Justin Rivest has to be quick on his feet and ready to handle whatever comes at him. These skills have also come in handy off the field for Rivest, who is simultaneously a Kathwari Honors student, a member of the Student Athlete Advisory Board and the Student Nursing Association, and recently applied to become a Peer Academic Support Services tutor — all while maintaining a 3.95 GPA.

Rivest, who hails from Repentigny, Quebec, is also an international student who learned to speak English in high school, and transferred to WCSU from a small, private Division III college in North Carolina, where he initially studied Health Promotion and Exercise Sciences.

“I was born and raised playing soccer,” Rivest said. “And I knew I wanted to continue playing in college. I was offered a soccer scholarship at Brevard College, and began in spring 2022, playing for their soccer team in fall 2022. But I wasn’t happy there, so I took spring 2023 off to find my place in life and make some money.”

Rivest returned to Montreal and saw that his sister was working at a local hospital helping patients suffering from Covid. He was inspired and took a job there doing everything from patient transport to preparing sterile spaces all over the hospital.

Justin Rivest

Justin Rivest

“I worked in many departments,” Rivest recalled, “so I got to see many different areas of medicine, and I was amazed by surgery. This made me determined to study nursing and one day go to medical school.”

Soon, Rivest was recruited by another college for his soccer skills — this time in Ohio — but they did not have a nursing program, so he declined. He attended one day of a soccer camp at home with a friend and happened to meet WestConn Men’s Assistant Soccer Coach Nick Kyriakidis, who spoke to him about WestConn’s soccer program.

“I looked up WCSU online and saw that they offered nursing and of course, soccer, and that sealed it,” he said.

Rivest enrolled as a Pre-Nursing student, has completed all of his General Education requirements, and is officially a Nursing major — and he couldn’t be more excited. He’s also contemplating adding a minor in Biology, to help with his future medical school goals. He stayed on campus for the first summer session of 2024 to take microbiology as a step in that direction — so he could focus on the course without juggling soccer and his nursing courses at the same time as would have been the case in the fall.

Taking advantage of opportunities like this is something that Rivest intends to continue doing.

“I’m looking at joining the International Student Exchange Program next summer,” he said. “I’m interested in taking Neurobiology in South Korea for six weeks so I can study abroad, experience a new culture and fulfill some of the credits I need for a minor in Biology.”

This summer, back home in Canada, Rivest plans to work out to be ready for soccer season and run in a half-marathon or 10K. He ran his first 10K on May 19, his birthday. He’s also looking forward to his third wilderness fishing trip with his dad. “Maybe I’ll even work a little bit this summer,” he said. “But the most important thing in the summer is spending time with my family,” he added.

“I’m really happy to be at WCSU,” Rivest said. “I’ve had so many great experiences: winning the LEC Championship and participating in volunteer activities with the soccer team and several clubs that included cleaning up the campus, making sandwiches for a shelter, a bake sale and volunteering for the magnet school’s field day on the university’s field. I tell my friends at home about my classes and labs — biology, chemistry, dissections, microbiology — and that I want to learn more about surgery. I’m interested in nursing volunteer experiences, too. My nursing classes start in the fall during soccer season, so it will be a busy fall. I’m looking forward to having more wins with the soccer team and creating more memories and having new experiences.”

Rivest said his ultimate goal is to get into Harvard Medical School. “This hard goal makes me want to take advantage of as many opportunities as I can, like participating in clubs and volunteering in the community. Whatever the outcome will be, I will be proud of myself for everything I’ve achieved. Right now, I’m living day by day with my goal in mind. So many doors will open for me and when I graduate, I will be the best version of myself. It’s a lot of work, but it’s all for my future.”



Western Connecticut State University changes lives by providing all students with a high-quality education that fosters their growth as individuals, scholars, professionals and leaders in a global society. Our vision: To be widely recognized as a premier public university with outstanding teachers and scholars who prepare students to contribute to the world in a meaningful way.