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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Junior Peña Leads Beacon Voyage Trip to Chicago

Junior Pena delivering a speech about community involvement at the Chancellor’s Welcoming Neighbors event.

Whether he was our orientation leader or the one guy who fixed our locker, many of us at UMass Boston have encountered Junior Peña in some way or another. Peña, a psychology major and communications minor in his junior year at UMass Boston, has proven to be a great example of what it means to get involved and make the best of the college experience. Among many other things, Peña is a peer mentor for FLI, liaison for UMass Boston and the Jimmy Fund, and will be leading the Beacon Voyages for Services (BVS) trip to Chicago this summer.

Originally from New Bedford Massachusetts, Peña came to UMass Boston to experience city life. “New Bedford is a very small place where everyone knows one another. I needed a new adventure to take on; I wanted to live in Boston, meet new people, and get out of the small town scene,” said Peña.

Throughout high school, Peña was active in his community. However, Peña explained, “It was not until I came to UMass Boston that I truly became involved with my community.”

Although he is largely involved on campus, Peña’s main focus right now is the BVS trip to Chicago. “Initially,” Peña explained, “What got me interested in BVS is that it allows students to branch out and have a positive impact in communities outside of Boston. I have already done a lot of community outreach within the Boston area, and I liked the opportunity to do the same elsewhere.”

Peña first encountered BVS, last Spring, when he participated in the BVS trip to Boulder Creek, California. Peña said, “In this trip, we mentored youth at an educational camp. The experience was truly amazing and was what inspired me to become a trip leader this year.”

“Very similar to the Boulder Creek BVS trip, this one also focuses on youth.” Peña continued, “Only, instead of just fifth graders, the Chicago BVS trip will focus on at-risk-youth ages 10 to 16.”

“We will do landscape work, gardening, and maintenance around the Chicago area in the morning.” Said Peña, “In the afternoon we will help some of the Chicago youth with homework and with the activities that they hold at the Chicago Youth Center, such as their music program.”

“Our two biggest strengths,” explained Peña, “are that everything schedule-wise is set in stone and, most importantly, that we picked individuals who are passionate about service and teamwork.”

Although the trip will not be until June, Peña and his team are going to start planning for it right away. “A big part of the BVS program is working together as a team to raise money for the trip.” Said Peña, “My goal is to have all the money long before June 1st. This way, the group members and I will be focus on team building as the date of the trip approaches.”

Overall, Peña claimed to be very excited for the trip. “I hope this serves as a gateway for students to get involved, not just with BVS, but also with the campus in general because it provides numerous opportunities,” said Peña.

Despite his busy schedule, Peña reports to having a very good social life. “I do most of my homework while I am at school and that adds flexibility to my schedule off-campus. Also, I get actively involved with many of the different events on campus.” Peña continued, “This has allowed me to meet a lot of people, and therefore, I find out about what’s going on.”

“My advice to the UMass Boston students is to get involved!” Peña said, “I know it’s tempting to just leave after class. However, if you actually get active within the university, the opportunities are endless! Don’t be afraid to try something different and outside of your comfort zone!”