Gabriel Reyes, a Valley High School senior and Upward Bound participant, will be attending Brown University in the fall of 2014. I sat down with Gabe to talk about his aspirations as a first generation college student, and learned about what motivates him to continue his pursuit of his academics.
Gabe considers himself “a bit of a social nerd.” He enjoys highly intellectual conversations, along with group collaboration. Gabe is the product of two immigrant parents, and has three siblings. He feels that coming from a family who immigrated influenced his life in a constructive way. Gabe will be the first in his family to attend college and says that it was difficult for him to come from a family where attending a university was an alien affair. He was confused at times, but was grateful that he had support from friends and teachers to help him along the way.
I asked Gabe what led him to pursue an Ivy League education and he told me that countless people had been instrumental in helping him achieve his goals, but he has his best friend to thank the most. Xuan Nguyen, Gabe’s best friend, is the Valley High School Valedictorian for the Class of 2014, will be attending Amherst College in the fall and will study Physics. Gabe explained to me that without inspiration, faith, and support that she placed in him as a scholar, he would not have dreamed so big. She realized in him things he might not have realized in himself, such as the intelligence and drive that are necessary to make it to such a prestigious school.
Gabe has been a member of the University of New Mexico’s Upward Bound program for four years. Upward Bound is a federally funded TriO program which serves low-income, first generation and high need students. They provide college preparatory guidance, as well as mentoring and cultural activities for students to participate in. As a member of the program he has had the opportunity to participate in activities he may not have as a low-income student.
He had the chance to interact with a diverse population of students who have become his friends. He also felt the support of staff who wrote letters of recommendation, gave him advising, and most importantly mentoring. He said that his favorite part of the program was when he had the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C. as part of the summer cultural event that Upward Bound gives. He expressed that through this experience, he was able to appreciate all that New Mexico has to offer, but realized that through experiencing different cultures and ways of thinking we can promote our society as a whole. Washington D.C. was the first exposure he had to life outside New Mexico and he knew he wanted to experience more.
He believes that it is in his destiny to help others. He will study psychology and philosophy, with the hope of becoming a J.D. He also wishes to pursue a Ph.D. in Cognitive Neuroscience. He is fascinated by the criminal population and wishes to better understand and help treat deviant behavior. He also believes that with a little encouragement and perspective, you have the ability to impact a person’s life in a positive way. As a Gates Millenium Scholar, he will have the opportunity to continue his pursuit of education to the doctorate, cost free. He hopes to come back to NM to further the state and his community.
When asked what advice he has to give to other students, he said, “I would tell others that maybe come from a similar circumstance as myself, to believe in their own potential and I would encourage those who see potential in others to give that encouragement that might better their lives.”
We wish Gabe the best of luck in all he does, and know that he will be successful!