By Nick Santana
Helping Those in Need
Ray Reyes, Director of Financial Aid at Cuyamaca College, is a die-hard San Diegan who loves the Padres and is committed to helping his Filipino community.
Reyes is a San Diego State University alumnus who has played and loved sports his entire life, so it is no surprise to see him wearing something Aztec or Padres related. Reyes and his wife also hold season tickets to the Padres to fuel their love for San Diego.
Reyes has worked for Cuyamaca College for over 20 years, helping those in need of financial assistance. Originally getting his degree in real estate, Reyes had never thought he would work in Financial Aid, where his work would affect thousands of students.
Helping his community
Born in the Philippines, Reyes moved around a lot because his father was in the U.S. Navy. After moving from the Philippines to Washington to California, Reyes’s family settled in San Diego, in the mid 1970s, when Reyes was a teen.
Reyes describes the mentality of the Filipino culture as servicing and helping people, which he was taught by his parents.
Reyes realized he had not visited the Philippines for a long time and decided that needed to change. By joining Gawad Kalinga (GK), a Philippine poverty alleviation and nation-building movement, Reyes was able to visit his home country and help people. GK’s mission is to end poverty for five-million Philippine families by 2024.
“GK is an organization that is trying to build communities, homes, and take millions of Filipinos out of poverty by creating events where they bring a bunch of volunteers to the Philippines for one week and work on projects like building homes, refurbish schools, and cleaning up the community,” said Reyes.
Reyes and his wife first went to volunteer in 2012 and have gone back four times to help build homes. The last time Reyes had gone back to the Philippines to volunteer for the GK was five months after the catastrophic Typhoon Haiyan in 2016. “After that typhoon hit, we went over to the Philippines to help clean up what we could, it was devastating,” said Reyes. Many native born Filipinos sometimes feel left behind by those who move to other countries and are grateful for those who comeback to help their community, Reyes mentioned.
Using financial aid to help people
Having been taught to serve and help others, Reyes brings this mentality to his job. By working in Financial Aid, he helps students during their academic career.
“Helping students with financial aid and explaining how financial aid helps them succeed is gratifying and I remind my staff about the work that we have done and the number of students we help every year,” said Reyes.
For students with questions about Financial Aid, Reyes has two pieces of advice: first, submit the FAFSA, and second, complete your financial aid file as soon as possible.