PhD Student
University of Southern California


Dean Rivera

Hilda Pantín, Ph.D.


PhD Student, University of Southern California

MSW Social Work, California State University, East Bay

BA Human Development, California State University, East Bay

About Me

Dean Rivera is currently a Social Work Ph.D. student in the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. Mr. Rivera’s passion for advancing the public health of Hispanics is rooted in his desire to improve substance use disorder treatment outcomes through evidence-based research and translational science. This is evident by the recognition of various scholarship foundations that support Mr. Rivera’s future such as the California Chancellor’s Doctoral Incentive Program Fellowship, California Pre-Doctoral Fellowship, the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, the Hispanic Community Affairs Council, the National Association of Social Workers (Consuelo W. Gosnell Memorial Scholarship), the CalSWEC II mental health stipend award, and the CSUEB Graduate Equity Fellowship. Being further recognized by the White House receiving the President’s Volunteer Service Award reinforced Mr. Rivera’s passion and calling of becoming a social work professor and career researcher. However, it is the quality of world-class mentoring where his research endeavors have been shaped and will be further cultivated. Mr. Dean Rivera is truly grateful to Dr. Hortensia Amaro and the NHSN for seeing his potential. Mr. Rivera will seek to emulate and pass on the same gift of values that my mentors have instilled.

Research statement

Mr. Rivera’s research career focuses on (a) substance use disorder (SUD) treatment (b) mental health treatment and (c) offender re-entry services for Hispanic urban men and women. Having worked and interned over the years with diverse Hispanic populations of urban men and women utilizing these services, Mr. Rivera has realized the role internal and external stressors play in SUD treatment retention, relapse, and treatment outcomes. Urban Hispanic men and women utilizing these services have an inordinate number of eco-systemic stressors such as homelessness, substance abuse, mental health disorders, trauma histories, criminal backgrounds, immigration, and poverty. Additionally, stress associated with pre-release from jail or prison into homelessness, joblessness, and limited access to treatment services are potential indicators of substance use and mental health relapse, violating probation or parole, and potentially re-offending. One of Mr. Rivera’s planned lines of research is to development of a pilot gender-responsive mindfulness-based cognitive-behavioral therapy (MBCT) intervention addressing the association between SUD’s, criminogenic needs and treatment retention as an adjunct to SUD treatment and offender re-entry services for Hispanic urban women and men.    

Research interests
Mental health, substance abuse, criminogenic needs and dynamic risk factors of forensic populations with substance use and co-occurring disorders, cultural and gender risk and responsivity, mindfulness-based interventions, translational and applied social work science.


Curriculum Vitae