The College recently hired Rosanna Reyes as associate dean and dean of first generation initiatives. Having spent the last 13 years of her professional career at Rutgers, attaining a bachelor’s degree in sociology, a masters degree in social work and a doctorate in education, Reyes welcomes the new opportunities that her new position affords her.
Reyes has spent the majority of her life in New Jersey. Growing up in a family whose members had lacked the opportunity to go to college, Reyes made it her dream to change that trend. “Even finishing high school would have been an accomplishment for my family,” Reyes said. Despite these difficulties, she is motivated by “what makes people want to pursue further education.”
Reyes has only been at the College for a month but has already redefined her role as associate dean, petitioning the College to include a focus on first generation initiatives to her position. Reyes hopes this is the first of many changes she will make at the College.
When speaking about her goals as associate dean, Reyes said she aspires to make sure “it is known that Williams College makes first generation students a priority,” as well as to “build up the pride within first generation students.” Reyes sees being a first generation student in a positive light and wishes that students did not see it as a “deficiency, [but] rather an opportunity.” Believing perspective is nearly half the battle for first generation students, Reyes believes that with the proper assistance, these students can thrive at the College.
Looking forward, Reyes hopes to network with first generation students, who account for nearly 20 percent of the student body. With duties including peer mentoring, group activities, community enrichment and student counseling, her hope for first generation students is that they will “feel like they belong here” and that “all first generation students graduate with a fulfilled experience.”
As Reyes has newly joined the College, she takes special pride in working with the incoming Class of 2017, though she feels rewarded to have the opportunity to work with the entire student body. “I feel like it’s my way of giving back … and it means a lot to me,” Reyes said.