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Q&A with Alfredo Reyes, Education PhD Student

Updated: Jul 18, 2018

The graduate student reflects on his research interests in Education, his path to graduate school, and plans for the future.

Alfredo Reyes next to Sammy Slug, with friends.
Alfredo Reyes, to the right of Sammy Slug, with friends.

Alfredo Reyes is a second year PhD student in Education.

I really enjoy being a part of the graduate community that the Graduate Student Commons has brought together. After a month of hard work, First-Friday’s is a welcomed opportunity to connect with friends across departments.

What are your research interests?

My research interests emerge out of the intersections of education, politics, and organizational learning. In graduate school, these have taken two distinct trajectories: I seek to understand how youth-led action research project can inform the implementation of education policy across complex social systems and organizations; and I explore definitions and practices of citizenship conceived within alternative and pluri-cultural worldviews.

Before you came to the graduate program, what other experiences did you have with higher education? And when did you know you wanted (or needed) to go to graduate school?

Before coming to graduate school at UCSC, I lived in Philadelphia, where I was responsible for developing strategic partnerships throughout the city for a non-profit that supported adult learners who started college but did not finish. In addition, I advised clients on matters spanning how to secure financial aid to academic tutoring. Prior to that, I was a college advisor at my community high school in Denver as I worked through my master’s degree at the University of Colorado at Boulder, which culminated in convening a group of leaders in art, education, and business to establish a Latino cultural arts center.  

While in Denver, I also volunteered for two foundations as a member of their grant-making committees in the areas of education. During this time, I began to learn about the role and impact of philanthropy in community development, which can be both positive and negative. It was here that I learned that powerful things happen when you invest in the ideas of young people; when they are empowered with the resources to tackle issues they are passionate about. 

I first understood that I needed a graduate degree three-months after my graduation from Colorado College at my first job. Within the classroom, I was challenged to ask difficult questions and supported with the mentorship to grow. In a large bureaucracy, I soon learned that posing big questions could unsettle established patterns and lead to being sidelined. Looking back, my academic and professional trajectory along higher education has been one of access and disruption.

Ultimately, it was from my parents that I learned that higher education could bring legitimacy and power to our lived experiences as an immigrant family, and millions of others. Despite being part of the economic backbone of the US, and literally building and cleaning the city with their hands, my mom and dad would tell me of how they felt invisible. How could that be?

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