Beyond the spear

College of Business alumna and javelin star Sophia Rivera Hassemer on her life as a professional athlete.

Sophia Rivera Hassemer

Feb. 21, 2024

From typical childhood sports to professional javelin star, Sophia Rivera Hassemer’s journey as an athlete is one for the books.

Born in Puerto Rico and growing up all over the world, Rivera Hassemer has had an array of new experiences throughout her life. In addition to Puerto Rico, her family lived in Belgium, Italy and New Jersey before settling in Missouri when Rivera Hassemer was in middle school. 

She exhibited athletic prowess early on and played a variety of sports including softball, basketball, soccer and track. Her track coach had eventually persuaded her to try out javelin – and before long, she was a star-in-the-making. 

While she continued to play softball and basketball throughout high school, her performance in javelin became increasingly impressive. After graduating from high school in 2016, Rivera Hassemer began her college career at the University of Wisconsin, an NCAA Division I school. 

A place like home

After two years, Rivera Hassemer transferred to the University of Missouri, where she found a family atmosphere at the Robert J. Trulaske, Sr. College of Business.

“Coming to Mizzou, it really was like a family,” she said. “I felt welcomed, encouraged and supported.”

But no matter the university, competing at a high level with the added responsibilities of academics meant Rivera Hassemer’s schedule as a student-athlete was rigid. She often scheduled her classes back-to-back to maximize her time to train and study. While the demands left little room for free time, Rivera Hassemer thrived under pressure. In December 2021, she graduated from the College of Business’ 150-Hour Accounting Program, which merges a bachelor of science in accounting and a master of accountancy, and received a certificate in assurance. With additional years of athletic eligibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic and several injuries, Rivera Hassemer was able to continue competing at the college level and complete a degree through the Crosby MBA program in May 2023. 

Professional businesswoman and athlete

Today, Rivera Hassemer is manager of operations at the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI), a position that has allowed her to put her business education into practice. CEI, which provides student entrepreneurs with opportunities to expand and improve their businesses, has allowed Rivera Hassemer to help students introduce helpful technology into their professional lives. With access to virtual and augmented reality headsets, artificial intelligence and workshops that teach the fundamentals of coding, students leave CEI with an adept ability to incorporate technology into their business models. 

Rivera Hassemer has traveled around the world representing both the United States and Puerto Rico in elite track meets. Visiting 37 countries over the course of her life has provided her with a global perspective that has a profound impact on her as an athlete, a businesswoman and a person. Various cultures have introduced her to their landscape, architecture, language and food. According to Rivera Hassemer, it’s impossible to pick a favorite place. Her travels have left a significant impression on her life — one that she feels is truly priceless. 

In hopes of competing in the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, Rivera Hassemer will continue to travel and represent Puerto Rico at meets around the world. The intricate world ranking system that will determine her qualification makes this season vital in securing her place at the Olympics.

Read more from the Robert J. Trulaske, Sr. College of Business

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