Reyes’ mother is Hawaiian-Japanese, his father is Philippino-Spanish and his wife is Navajo-Mongolian, giving his four children a rich heritage to build a strong future on. Coming from a diverse background has provided a focus for Reyes’ career, and it has been a goal for him to reach out to under-served populations and help them find success, just as he has.
For several years Reyes has worked with federal outreach programs, like Upward Bound, Gear Up and others. These programs focus on helping students who are low income, first generation college students, ethnic minorities or otherwise at risk of not going to college.
“[Working with those programs] really framed my career trajectory,” Reyes said. “It solidified what I wanted to dedicate my career to, which was increasing access for underrepresented communities to higher education.”
As the Latino population began to grow on the UVU campus, a new position that would help serve this population was created. Reyes became the director of the Latino Initiative, where he served for two years. This also helped Reyes see the importance of diversity in higher education institutions.
“Diversity in and of itself is extremely important for any university campus, because the purpose of a university education is to have students wrestle with ideas and issues so that they know where they stand as they go out in the community and make a difference in whatever field they are going into,” Reyes said.
Reyes has helped students and even the community itself see a different perspective through the “Hidden Voices” exhibit, which featured selected pieces from graffiti artists. The exhibit, which Reyes contributed to as an artist, had over 2500 people come through, making it the most well-attended exhibit the Woodbury museum has ever had.
“‘Hidden Voices’ is just an extension of that commitment for me, to say, ‘What is one of our underserved communities that is labeled bad?’ … I just wanted to open a door where these students, with these talents and gifts and interests, could be validated and valued,” Reyes said.
Through his efforts, Reyes has created a dialogue about diversity and “invites [students] to look at the world differently, from new lenses, new perspectives and new cultures.”