Manny Reyes-Ponce, TWA President, is continuing to make great contributions as a leader on campus, and feeling confident that this will be another great year at Worcester State.
Written by Jess Evora, Assistant Director, OSILD
Photos provided by M. Reyes-Ponce
The President of Worcester State’s Third World Alliance (TWA) is Manny Reyes-Ponce, a third-year student here on campus. Last year, Manny led TWA (a student organization that focuses on bringing multiculturalism, pluralism, and diversity to campus) to great success.
He is now going into his second year as President. However, if you were to ask Manny his role on campus, he would simply tell you that he is a proud first-generation college student studying Business Administration at Worcester State, and he is a student first.
“Personally I don’t think titles are important,” Manny said. “I feel that, sometimes, if you are given a title, it can be used to taken advantage of situations.”
Therefore, Manny does not focus on his title as President of TWA, but rather views himself as a member of a team. He strongly believes that both learning and working with a team are two important components of leadership. Therefore, he is intentional in making sure he engages in learning opportunities both inside and outside the classroom.
The Office of Student Involvement sat down with Manny recently to learn more about his work both on campus and within the local community.
Leadership through Campus Involvement
If you were looking for Manny on campus, you might find him in class. You may find him in the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA) with his advisor Laxmi Bissoondial, or in the TWA Office. You might also see him in the Student Involvement office, speaking with the office’s director, Kristie McNamara, about logistics for an event. Finally, you may very well find Manny out in the local community helping to engage youth in conversations related to unity among diversity.
Manny is very much involved in his community, and it has shaped his view regarding the definition of leadership.
“Everyone is a leader in their own way,” Manny said. “Some people are more vocal. Others show their leadership through action. Everyone has their own type of leadership, and everyone can learn from one another.”
When leading a group, Manny likes to focus on ensuring he creates an inclusive environment. “For me, I personally like to get the voices and opinions of the people,” Manny said. “It’s important to me to hear everyone out.”
Manny explained that through his work and collaboration with other leaders on campus, he has learned the importance of taking the time to truly listen to what those around him have to say. He has also learned to take pieces of what he appreciates about his peers’ leadership style to create his own unique way of leading.
“I feel lucky to have the opportunity to work with my peers on campus,” Manny said. “They give me another lens to see leadership because everyone has their own leadership style.”
Manny has also come to realize that leadership can be tough. It is not easy to lead a diverse group of individuals to accomplish a common goal. However, learning to work with diversity in a group is extremely important. This has been one of the biggest lessons Manny has learned during his time here at WSU.
“I’ve also learned that you can’t please everybody,” Manny said. “But the aim is to try please the majority.”
Making an Impact
In addition to his commitment to TWA, Manny worked this past summer as a Resident Advisor for Worcester State’s Upward Bound program (a pre-college program for local high school students). He has also dedicated his time to lending a hand to Worcester States’s Alternatives for Individual Development (AID) program through the Office of Multicultural Affairs.
As a native of Worcester, Manny also feels it is important to give back to the community. He has been an active member of the Culture Exchange Through Soccer program (CETS) for the past 9 years. CETS is a non-profit organization dedicated to using the sport of soccer to unify diverse communities in the pursuit of collective empowerment. Manny has been with the organization for 9 years.
Manny with members of Worcester’s Culture Exchange Through Soccer (CETS) program | Photo Copyright: CETS
“We organize Worcester World Cup for both men and women,” Manny said.
The wide range of countries that have been represented in this event is a testament to the diversity of the city of Worcester. Manny explained that the teams participating in the Worcester World Cup represent many countries, including Brazil, Ecuador, Liberia, Ghana, Kenya, Somalia, Iraq, Albania, Myanmar, and Italy – just to name a few. In order to qualify to represent a country in the tournament, the majority of members on each team must come from the specific country.
Manny’s family is from El Salvador, and he is happy to share that El Salvador has a team participating in the games. Manny also explained that his cultural background has had a large impact on the development of his leadership style.
“When I visit El Salvador, I notice people are very hard-working,” Manny said. “Things might be hard, but as long as you get the job done at the end of the day, that’s what really matters.”
Leading Third World Alliance (TWA) into a New Academic Year
Manny brings this mindset into his work with TWA. Looking ahead to this new academic year, he is most excited to work with the new team of TWA leaders to see what they can accomplish.
“We had our retreat recently, and we had a lot of time to bond,” Manny said. “I’m looking forward to working with all of them. With last year’s team, I didn’t know what to expect and it worked out very well. So I’m excited to see that I am going to have a great experience once again.”
Manny with the Third World Alliance Executive Board and their Advisors from the Office of Multicultural Affairs during their 2018 retreat
Manny encourages the members of his team to take an active role and become more involved, not just in TWA, but in anything that interests them in the community.
“I’m looking forward to seeing who is going to emerge as our next great leader as the school year ends,” Manny said. Manny is also excited to collaborate with other student leaders across campus, as well as other departments and offices.
With his positive outlook and his eagerness for teamwork, we are excited to see the impact that Manny will continue to make at Worcester State this academic year.
“I feel good about what we can all do together as community,” Manny said.
We do too, Manny! Best of luck at Worcester State this year! Go Lancers.