Estrella Mountain Leader Selected for Harvard's Elite Kennedy School of Government

July 19, 2005 - Maria Reyes, director of Estrella Mountain Community College's NASA Center for Success in Math and Science, will depart for Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts upon her recent acceptance into the elite John F. Kennedy School of Government. Reyes will focus her studies on the intensive, one-year Master of Public Administration program designed for mid-career professionals looking to expand their careers into the realm of government and committed to making a difference in their home communities. Reyes established the college's NASA Center, the only of its kind in the nation designed to stir interest in non-traditional areas of math and science for underrepresented Hispanic students, through a grant from the National Science Foundation. Reyes has watched the program impact the lives of students through tutoring, mentoring by faculty and staff, career and personal counseling, and field trips, including university visits-something she believes is key to taking the next step in one's education. Reyes said it was her own week long visit to the famed Harvard University that enticed her to take the next step in her own education. "I started envisioning myself there, among people from all walks of life-the same principle of what I encourage from the students here at Estrella Mountain," Reyes says. The rigorous application process required months of attention, and included five essays on a variety of topics. Reyes began her career at Arizona State University, and holds both Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Civil Engineering, the focus of her early career. Her commitment to assisting Arizona youth, primarily female and Hispanic students in reaching for careers in science and technology, led her to work for ASU's minority engineering program and eventually to Estrella Mountain Community College where she has worked to inspire West Valley youth to believe in their own abilities, and to support them the same way a variety of mentors, administrators, professors and other educators supported her. "When I was a young student I remember a defining moment where I had to decide-should I finish my degree or drop out. It was my role model at the time who guided me. What she did for me has stuck with me," Reyes says. "And now and in the years ahead-when I have the chance to do that for someone, I have to be there. I've got to do it for those students." Reyes' education will be supported not only by her husband, fellow engineer Juan Reyes and their three children, but also by the generous contribution and support of their mentor, Arizona business leader Alejandro Reynoso, CEO and President of ARUSI, one of the state's leading engineering firms. As students continue to grow and benefit from her legacy at the college's NASA Center, Reyes, an Arizona native, plans to return to home upon completion of her education program. Her professional experience coupled with her experience in higher education now complemented by a first-rate education at world renowned Harvard University will be an asset like no other, and Reyes plans to apply her education and intrinsic understanding of state to helping her state in any way she can, making a difference right here at home. After a lifetime in the Valley of the Sun, Reyes says, "I'm finally going away to college."Estrella Mountain Community College is located on Thomas and Dysart Roads in Avondale and offers transfer-ready academic courses and job-specific occupational training to more than 13,000 students annually. Estrella Mountain is part of the Maricopa County Community College District, one of the largest community college districts in the nation. For more information visit or