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Alumna aids first generation students

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Browsing in the history section of the Wilson Library, La Verne alumna Nancy Reyes enjoys reading and learning about new cultures. Reyes graduated with a master’s degree in education and spent a year teaching English in China. / photo by Nanor Zinzalian

Browsing in the history section of the Wilson Library, La Verne alumna Nancy Reyes enjoys reading and learning about new cultures. Reyes graduated with a master’s degree in education and spent a year teaching English in China. / photo by Nanor Zinzalian

Cody Luk
Online Editor

The University of La Verne recently hired Nancy Reyes, an alumna who was a first generation college student, as the assistant director of first generation and cultural programs in the office of multicultural services.

Reyes received both her bachelor’s degree in liberal studies in 2006 and her master’s degree in education in 2009 from the University. As the first in her family to attend college, Reyes benefited from the experience and wants to help other first generation students.

“As an alumnus, I was so fortunate to be able to have this experience, and I hope to bring it to other students too,” Reyes said. “I felt that the professors and faculty all really cared about the students in a holistic manner.”

Reyes was previously the interim assistant director of first generation and cultural programs. She was chosen through a committee of three staff members and one student.

Reyes is overseeing the first generation student success program, consists of the first generation scholarship program, a parental program and various workshops for first generation students.

Reyes also provides mentorship and conducts research in the department.

She is working with Daniel Loera, director of multicultural affairs, to organize campus events and graduation ceremonies that celebrate student diversity.

“Ever since she was a student, she has become involved with the University and the community at large, such as (being the adviser for) Iota Delta,” Loera said. “She continues to be very passionate with her overall experience at the University.”

Reyes also co-advises the First Generation Club, a student-led organization that holds workshops to build a morale support system for first generation students.

“I think what she’ll bring is a reflection of what she wants to bring to others,” Loera said.

“She’s really committed to pushing students beyond their comfort zone and to meet their goals. She definitely has that drive.”

Sharon Cruz-McKinney, director of community relations and outreach, has known Reyes since she was a high school student, because as an admission officer, Cruz-McKinney recruited her to attend ULV.

“(Reyes) said to me, ‘you’re the reason I came to La Verne,’ because I’ve spoken to her before she graduated high school,” Cruz-McKinney said.

Cruz-McKinney hopes Reyes will bring a sense of belonging to the students.

“I know that she’ll be a key to retention,” Cruz-McKinney said. “I get them in, but she gets them through.”

Retention is also an important issue Reyes wants to focus on with her new position.

“I think the most important thing right now is retention and making sure students graduate in four years,” Reyes said.

Reyes also has other experiences in education, such as her work as the program director of the Boys and Girls Club of Pomona, the site coordinator for an afterschool program, THINK Together and her experiences working in the Ontario-Montclair School District.

She also taught English to first and second graders in Jiangmen, China, and she cited it as her favorite experience in education.

“I know that you can’t buy the excitement and love that one has for working at a certain location, and she definitely has a love for the University,” Loera said.

“This transfers to the students she works with.”

Cody Luk can be reached at cody.luk@laverne.edu.

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