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Maria Mata Reyes: A Goodnight Spotlight

We are happy to highlight our Hispanic and LatinX students during Hispanic Heritage Month! 

Maria Mata-Reyes, class of 2025, not only loves the Goodnight Scholar’s program, but also education. Read more to learn about how Maria’s major and future goals in education connect to her racial and ethnic backgrounds.

1. Tell us about yourself! (class, major, hobbies, fun facts, etc.) 

My name is Maria Mata-Reyes and I am Goodnight Scholars Class of 2025. My major is Secondary Science Education with a concentration in Biology and a minor in Forensic Sciences. I love to roller skate, embroider, and I recently started crocheting! I also love collecting vintage books.

2. Do you have any extracurriculars you would like to discuss?

I am a STEM Coach this year through Goodnight and am excited for the opportunity to work with students in neighboring counties. I am also the Secretary of the Multicultural Young Educators Network! We are open to people from all backgrounds, ethnicities, and majors, not just education majors. We focus on promoting unity in diverse groups and youth advocacy. We have a social coming up on September 14th from 6pm-8pm so feel free to drop by Poe to say hi! We’ll have more events throughout the semester so keep an eye out for those!

3. What are some of your favorite things about the Goodnight Scholars Program?

I love the people! Everyone is so kind and genuinely cares about each other. Certainly people have their differences but with all of us being Goodnights, we’re drawn to each other and ultimately help each other be the best versions of ourselves. This extends to the pro staff who are amazing as well!

The programs offered through REPORTER are also a highlight of the program. I was pleasantly surprised when I found out that not every event was about professional development. Meeting and getting to know other scholars at cultural events and socials has been an enlightening experience for sure! 

4. How have you been able to connect your racial and ethnic background to your major and involvement at NC State?

In my academic career, I have only had 3 latino teachers, 2 of which taught Spanish to some degree. I hardly ever saw myself represented in many careers to begin with, much less in anything STEM related. In 8th grade, my school had a model rocket club. Naturally, I attended the meeting but imagine my surprise when I realized I was the only latina who joined. I initially thought I entered the wrong room!

Nevertheless, I did not let this discourage me from pursuing my interests. Because of my ethnic background, I can provide a different perspective for students of color and help them feel comfortable in my classroom. When the students see themselves reflected in the content they are learning or see something from their culture being not only shown but incorporated into a lesson, there is a deep, unique connection that occurs which pushes the student to want to learn more.

5. What are your future career and life goals? Do these goals connect to your racial and ethnic background?

I believe that these goals do connect to my ethnic background. Being the daughter of immigrants who had to give up their education to work, they always encourage me to work hard in school. I started to view education as a way to honor the sacrifices that my parents made for me. 

I intend to graduate with my Bachelor’s in Science Education and to do an Accelerated Master’s with my fourth year at NCSU. When I accomplish this, I will be the first person in my family to earn a Master’s degree and the second person to graduate university in my family. In the future, I would like to teach high school students but I am open to the idea of teaching at a community college someday as well.