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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

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March 4, 2024
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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

Brianna Reyes’ Ambition to Never Plateau

Classical+Languages+and+Historical+Archeology%2C+2014

Classical Languages and Historical Archeology, 2014

Driving in from a Boston suburb, Brianna Reyes’ mom made her daughter’s first visit to the University of Massachusetts Boston special. They stayed in the city for the night after touring the campus. 
“I went on one of the dreariest days,” Reyes said. “The day I went to campus was rainy, slushy, and really gross. Even though it wasn’t looking its best, I was really excited. My tour guide did a good job talking about the travel and service opportunities.” 
UMass Boston was one of the last places she found while searching for schools. She wanted small classes, but all of the private colleges she visited seemed a little too small. 
“The tour of UMass really set out to show me that the class sizes were generally smaller, especially for the things I wanted to study. It also had all of the features of larger universities. There were so many clubs. There were so many opportunities to travel, and lots of opportunities to do community service. Those were things that really hooked me.”
On top of all that, Reyes was one of the recipients for the Chancellor’s Scholarship for high achieving high school students. This meant that tuition and fees were completely covered. That sealed the deal for her. 
“It was everything that I wanted,” she said.
Reyes started involving herself on campus before her freshman year. She got a job in the undergraduate admissions office, and after working there for a semester, became a Beacon Ambassador. They are the top tour guides responsible for showing prospective students around campus, all while sharing their knowledge and experience of UMass Boston. 
“Working with Admissions and being a Beacon helped me improve my public speaking skills,” she said. “I’ve always liked talking to groups. After giving tours two to three to four times a week in front of high school students, I got used to understanding [their] attention span and figuring out how much information they can handle at once. I knew when to get things moving.” 
The day before her graduation, Reyes secured a job teaching Latin at Chelsea High School in Chelsea, a surrounding city just north of Boston. 
“I’ve always wanted to teach,” she said. “It’s a lot more work than I thought! I did student teaching but when you student teach, you really only see one side of what goes on as a teacher. [My first year teaching] was kind of crazy. There were some days where I was there until 9 or 10 at night, really stressed. In the end, it panned out. I like what I do.”
In her sophomore year, Reyes needed to decide what she wanted to teach. She wanted to do something different and difficult. She never wants to plateau, so she chose to teach a subject that has always challenged and intrigued her: Latin. 
“To this day, it’s the hardest thing that I do. I really try to get my students to understand that it’s good to challenge yourself and how rewarding it can feel when you’re successful at something that’s really hard. I’ve always liked Latin, but it has always been hard, and I’m glad I chose to do something that would really challenge me. One of the things that I learned at UMass was that it’s good to be challenged. It’s good to push yourself to be better and to struggle.” 
She emphasizes to her students that their education is their own, they can have ownership over it, and to step up and be a leader in their own education. 
The work that Reyes did with the Office of Student Leadership and Community Engagement helped her understand the vast opportunities available to people around the world. It also showed her the challenges that some face in taking advantage of said opportunities. 
“My classes [at UMass Boston] helped me understand my very urban, inner city students from a different perspective, understanding that some of them might work after school. They might have jobs until 11 or 12 at night, that some of them might have to take care of their families because their parents are working.” 
The extracurricular experiences that influenced her the most came from working with Sherrod Williams, director of the Office of Student Leadership and Community Engagement. 
“He did a good job of getting people to understand that everyone is different. Even though we are different, we all have strengths, and we all have the ability to become leaders. What he taught me in how to lead other leaders, I try to take into my classrooms.” 
The classics department in particular helped Reyes expand her experience through travel. 
“They helped me find a program that was doing an archeological dig in Italy,” she says. “I had scholarships that covered everything from the flight to cost of the program, even spending money for food. I never would’ve even thought that I could do that if it wasn’t for their help. They sat me down and walked me through the process. They helped me understand that I could do these things. That was something that I am never going to forget.” 
At the dig in Abruzzo, Italy, Reyes realized quickly that archeology was not for her.
“We had to be really careful [with the artifacts], using toothpicks and tooth brushes to keep it clean. You had to be very careful. It was not my favorite thing to do.”
That’s when she started considering a career teaching ancient Roman culture. Reyes’ understanding of the world expanded exponentially through her time at UMB. 
“We have a really unique campus in that there are a lot of transfer students. There are a lot of international students. There are a hand full of students that come right out of high school. I hope that UMass Boston preserves that diverse [student] identity because it contributes to the kind of education you get just from the atmosphere.” 
While she knows changes are inevitable, Reyes hopes that UMB maintains its commitment to providing quality public higher education in an urban environment. 
“The staff and faculty at UMass are the most supportive people to help you figure out what you love and who you want to be.”
Her advice to college students at any school is to get involved in student activities.
“Go to the different fairs they have, check out the centers, or just go and see what’s going on when there are events. Go, even if you’re going by yourself. You’ll meet people that are interested in those things, too.”