Natasha Rivas was successful in one of the most difficult industries in the nation less than a year into her modeling career in New York City.
She worked for a fashion label, booked her own agent, and acted in both commercials and TV shows before turning 21. But for Natasha, the most meaningful experience in the city was being baptized into the LDS church.
“New York was great. I did fun things. I got to model a bunch, which was so fun,” Natasha said. “But honestly, the best part was being baptized.”
Natasha waited six years to be baptized as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In New York, she finally achieved that dream. However, baptism wasn’t the end of her struggles. Natasha developed optimism, courage and faith as she followed an unexpected path that eventually led her to BYU.
Natasha first became acquainted with the church in eighth grade. She struggled with feelings of depression at the time and found strength through attending church. However, her parents were not excited about their daughter’s interest in the church and didn’t want her to attend church services.
“I have to hand it to her for not just giving up and spiraling down — for turning to something that I think that helped her to get through,” said Natasha’s father, Jaime Rivas. “I can talk about it now. At the time I didn’t quite get it, but now it’s very clear to me, and her dedication to her faith is something that impresses me.”
The struggle with her parents’ disapproval continued throughout her high school years.
“I think that may have been one of the hardest things she’s ever faced: the conflict between church and family,” said Natasha’s hometown friend and mentor, Allie Chapman.
Instead of attending church services, Natasha often conducted her own spiritual sessions where she just sat outside of her home and read talks from church leaders or the scriptures.
“Those times were the most tender,” Natasha said. “All of the things that strengthened my testimony the most were the moments when it was personal with Heavenly Father.”
The Daily Universe, BYU
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