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Shayla  Rivera

Shayla Rivera

Aerospace Engineer, Former NASA Rocket Scientist, & Corporate Trainer

Shayla Rivera

Aerospace Engineer, Former NASA Rocket Scientist, & Corporate Trainer


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 Space Shuttle and Space Station programs for five years.

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. During that time, 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 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." In 2020, Shayla’s 1/2 hour stand-up comedy special titled Shayla Rivera: It's Not Rocket Science, premiered on HBO Latino and started streaming on HBO Max.

Shayla Rivera has been speaking and performing in both English and Spanish for 28 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 Bureau. After only 3 years of teaching, Shayla was awarded the John J. Koldus Faculty and Staff Achievement Award in 2020 by the Division of Student Affairs at Texas A&M University.
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 purpose.

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.”

Speaker Videos

It’s Not Rocket Science | HBO Latino

TEDx: IMAGINATION: “ I’m-A-Genie-in-Creation”

Diversity & Inclusion: Celebrate Diversity

Mom Wants her Money Back – Stand Up Comedy Performance

Speech Topics

ABC: Awareness Begins Change

The most important subject to study for anyone seeking true success is the one subject usually given the least amount of study, that subject is the self. I realized that I was going on through my existence feeling many times like I was dragging a great bag filled with some discomfort that I wasn't quite sure what it was. This affected my daily life in negative ways, the most common of which was keeping me from my best. I have made it my business to get to understand me and through that I have gotten to understand most others. Through paying attention, I can report that I found a way to get 'clear' about why I do what I do, and this has opened the door to me changing the things I need to and want to change. Humor has been my saving grace and combining humor with respectful contemplation I can share ways to become clear and then free from what holds us back. This will be a great time to laugh our way to Awareness.

Equity, Diversity & Inclusion: Celebrate Diversity

Diversity is a ‘hot button’ topic in America right now. This subject is often approached from the perspective of fear about our differences instead of from the opportunities brought forth by the same. Fearing what we don’t understand only promotes limitations in our growth. Once we learn to celebrate what makes us different from one another than we will welcome and celebrate one another. What we must remember is that the very strength of our nation is reflected on the writing of our National Seal, “E Pluribus Unum” – Out of Many, One.

Laughing in the Face of Adversity

The elements needed to transcend all the stresses and adversities in your life can be found in a shift of perspective. Moreover, the longer you’ve lived the clearer your perspective gets, and the funnier adversity becomes. Our biggest problem is that from infancy, we have been taught that taking ourselves seriously is paramount to obtaining respect and success, especially in our culture where not taking yourself seriously enough is seen as a sign of weakness and even a feeble mind. This is how so many of us live in a state of abject seriousness.

The truth is that when you can laugh at yourself, you can laugh with others. This talk will give you tools to show you how to see the funny and maybe even write your ‘act’... Sharing your act will be completely on a volunteer basis. There isn’t a life without some Comedy in it…that is… without some comedy in it, there isn’t a life.”

Resilience, Endurance & Just Showing Up

A great quote we have all heard is, “Don’t look so much at how far you have yet to go, instead look at how far you have already come.”

Our culture has made resilience into something that we must develop and strengthen. Yet resilience is something we possess and can only display. We demonstrate resilience every day by the mere act of showing up, what we do not do however, is acknowledge and give ourselves credit for what we have already gone through. Yet we are not here just to endure but to recognize the immense ability of the human spirit to remain even after much has happened.

When we endure, we are simply tolerate something while often grinding our teeth. When we see the true strength of our spirit, we recognize our resilience. Endurance is of the world, resilience is of the spirit. Showing up is the first step, being present is the modality that can bring peace. The only way to strengthen our resilience is to recognize it.

Transforming Stress - First You Have to Know You're Stressed

If there is one thing I have observed in my life, it is the amazing capability we all possess to pretend we are not stressed. Heck, we don't even know what stress looks like. We think admitting to stress is somehow a sign of weakness and thus we must absolutely deny that stress might have a hold of us. Stress is a reality, NOT, a possibility, so why fight it... I say Join Stress and laugh all the way to a better longer and healthier life. I will give you techniques that will help you to "Not Choose to Be Stressed".

Warning!: Once you choose to become an unstressed individual you will probably stress everybody out!

Possible Insights;

  • Recognizing stress and moving through it quicker (It is easier and funnier than you think)
  • Understanding the real 'value' of Stress (Hint; People in the Cemetery have no stress)
  • There is value in stress, but no value in Being stressed. (If it hurts when you go like this... don't go like this)

Empowerment STEM / STEAM

“I was a typical young girl, conflicted with insecurities and shyness. Yet in possession of a challenge driven determination that has not quit to this day,” she says. Shayla understands the importance of the voices that either encourage or discourage and has always chosen to be a source of belief and inspiration. “Truth is, if I could do anything, anyone else also can.”

Helping young women believe in themselves and their potential in STEM & STEAM fields is a driving force in Shayla’s purpose. She travels around the globe encouraging girls to see the truth of their potential. And speaks to women to help them remember the incredible strength of their nature. “I have never met a woman who was not fierce in some way, even though they could not see it. All I want to do is remind them of just how amazing we truly are.”

Personal Improvement

Nothing is as powerful nor important as the individual. Becoming clear about the obstacles in our way is paramount to Personal Improvement. When we explore our conditioning we begin to see how our seeming limitations are simply what we were conditioned to believe and now agree with. The work at hand is to begin to be honest in identifying the obstacles in our way, and seeing how they are kept in place by our own selves. Once we are able to stop denying this self-blocking, then we can begin to remove, go around, or jump over them to clear our paths and open up to new and exciting opportunities. This is the only way to a more ¬¬¬¬¬fulfilling life.


Like everything else, leadership begins with the individual. A leader is not defined by a title or a position of leadership but by their ability to inspire others to work towards a common goal. Traits of leadership such as having a vision, setting goals, charisma, communication skills, character, intelligence, and many more, can be found within every person. I focus on helping individuals recognize and strengthen these traits within themselves. Then give them the tools that will help them do the same for others.

Value of Humor

The Value of Humor in our lives cannot be overstated. A person who cannot find fault within and then laugh at themselves is a very poor soul indeed. It is amazing to me how we have made it somehow a fault when a person tends to be gregarious and laugh a lot. We deem those people as not capable to be ‘successful’ somehow. I say take what you do seriously, but don’t take yourself so seriously. Finding where we all trip in life, then being able to laugh about it is the very genesis of all good things. I can Laugh at myself…and yes, I can also laugh at you.