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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

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February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

Alexander Becerra Discovers a Passion for Service in Detroit

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Accounting, 2012

The flags of countries from all over the world that circle campus made a deep impression on Alexander Becerra the first time he visited the University of Massachusetts Boston. 
“It showed that they’re embracing every type of culture,” he says. “Inside of my courses, the professors always took different approaches to teach the material and really say, this is how it is here, but this is how it could be somewhere else.” 
With every class he took at UMass Boston, Becerra felt his perspective grow more dynamic. His professors cultivated an environment that was mindful of the diverse perspectives at play in every issue. 
“They were always trying to make us appreciate the subject matter for more than what was apparent, because it may be relevant for us here in one particular way, but someone else could see it a totally different way, and it may not be as relevant for them.” 
His classes offered more than just readings and lectures. 
“They would also teach us based off of our experience, and I think that that’s what made me realize they’re trying to put themselves in my shoes, so I should try to put myself into other people’s shoes.” 
As opposed to treating UMass as a safety net, Becerra learned to see his education as a collaborative experience. 
“You can never do anything on your own,” he says. “The most important thing in life is building relationships, and at UMass Boston, you’re able to build relationships with people that are from very different backgrounds.” 
Out of high school Becerra worked for awhile before taking classes at Bunker Hill Community College, where he got an associates degree. UMass Boston accepted him upon graduation. During his first semester at UMass Boston, Becerra got an email about Beacon Voyages for Service. 
“I always want to volunteer and give back, and so I went up to the student activities center and I started asking some questions, started getting some feedback on past trips and how they went, how it was organized, how you could participate, and then from there I just fully immersed myself in the application process.” 
He met Sherrod Williams, and interviewed for a trip to Detroit during spring break. He got selected with 12 other students, and spent the rest of the semester raising money for poverty alleviation in The Motor City.
“From that point on there were little volunteer opportunities within the campus such as MLK Day of Service or Spring into Action.” 
He helped at a soup kitchen, and painted inside a homeless shelter in Lynn with the group he met during his interview in the student leadership office. 
“The Beacon Voyages for Service really started it all,” Becerra says. 
That spring break, 13 students took off to Detroit to learn about poverty alleviation in the inner city. 
“We did a slew of things, so, for starters we worked with an organization called Blight Busters in which we helped destroy houses that were used for illegal or questionable activity.” 
They took down a whole house piece by piece, recycling the building supplies as they removed them. 
“We did a lot of it by hand, and we had to work with one another as well as the organization, and from day one to day seven the house was actually collapsed, so it was pretty inspiring seeing that.” 
As they removed material from the house, they loaded it into the back of a truck to be transported to a building depot. 
“That was unlike anything I’d ever seen before because typically whenever they’re gonna break down anything it’s going to be with machinery. You don’t see 20 or 30 people just going at a house with some tools. People would probably call the cops or something, and say what’s going on with these people, and so that was a really unique experience.” 
“There was one particular moment I remember,” Becerra says. “Someone from the organization was helping out one of our volunteers, and then they broke a piece off the house, and it almost hit the person from the organization that we were working with, but luckily one of us caught it, so it’s just looking out for one another, being there for one another, supporting one another.” 
While in the city, they also served at a soup kitchen, visited a community garden nearby that provided the food, and they admired artwork from the community in a local cafe. 
“So it was really just being taken into another community and organization, and group of people, as if we’d lived there our whole lives, so that was nice of them to do, and it was also, it kind of makes you think what you could do when you come back to your community, or your school. It’s all about helping people.” 
This spirit of service also extended into Bercerra’s classroom. 
“Professors were always willing to help,” he says. “They’d even schedule time to sit with me after class, or within their office hours, making an appointment, and they were very comical. They try to lighten the load by keeping things funny or just spinning it a different way. My professors did a really good job of bringing some enthusiasm to the classroom, and making you want to learn, and trying to engage you in discussion.”
His describes his classes as communal experiences, just as much about generating fresh discussions as about readings and lectures. 
“You can always poke at a particular topic and nobody’s going to get upset because you’re trying to solve a problem or trying to think of a more efficient way to do something or to try to think about something. That’s the type of environment that UMass Boston cultivates just in the professors and the students combined.”
Now Becerra works in accounting and recording at Bank of New York Mellon, soon to be a first year audit staff within Deloitte and Touche. 
“My return on investment has been huge,” he says. “It’s ridiculous. I’ve learned so much. I’ve gained so much from it, and I’m just grateful.” 
“You’re going to receive some great opportunities at UMass Boston. Make sure that you’re taking with one hand, and with the other hand you’re grabbing someone else and pulling them up. It’s about everyone that goes to UMass Boston. It’s a huge campus. It attracts a lot of different people, but just be sure to help some people out, even if it’s just with your point of view.”

About the Contributor
Caleb Nelson served as the following positions for The Mass Media the following years: Editor-in-Chief: Fall 2010; 2010-2011; Fall 2011 News Editor: Spring 2009; 2009-2010