(Above from left, Natanael and Dary Burgos, and Dauri Torres, right)
MCLA was the right college for brothers Dauri Torres '10 and Natanael Burgos '12, and their sister, Dary Burgos '13 of Lawrence, Mass.
Now finishing up his master's degree, Dauri is the assistant director of admissions for diversity recruitment at Fisher College in Boston. Natanael is the first Hispanic in the United States to receive the Presidential Scholarship for the Semester at Sea program, and Dary will spend her spring semester studying art in Italy.
Why MCLA? In addition to its affordability, it was the small campus and low student-to-faculty ratio that attracted the siblings.
"Besides the small classes, it feels like I'm constantly having conversations about what's going on in the arts. I love that type of thing," said Dary, whose major is arts management. "We do have lectures, but it feels more like conversations about the latest things in the art world."
"I don't believe in luck," explained Natanael, a sociology major with minors in criminal justice and Spanish. "I believe in making the right choices. One of those right choices was MCLA, where I have the opportunity to personalize my education. I don't think you could do that anywhere else, when it comes to campus size. There are a lot of schools out there, but I feel with the larger schools, you compromise a lot."
This week, Natanael starts off on the adventure of a lifetime as he embarks on a Semester at Sea. As in Dauri's 2009 Semester at Sea experience, he will attend classes on board a ship as he travels to destinations around the world.
Natanael was one of nine to receive a $30,000 Presidential Scholarship out of nearly 400 applicants. He attributes much of that success to MCLA.
"I was able to personalize my education and build relationships with all of my professors," Natanael said. "By doing that, I was able to achieve the highest grade in all of my classes. It's been a lot of hard work; this is my chance to shine."
"I'm definitely getting a personalized education," agreed Dary. "Compared to my friends that go other schools, they're just a number. I'm learning from a professor. If you go to another school, sometimes other students are teaching.
"My professors take a personal interest in me and ask about things I'm interested in," she continued. "They help me find classes or people who are in those types of fields. A lot of professors out there don't do that, and MCLA is a great place because they do."
As part of her arts management program, Dary plans to participate in the Berkshire Hills Internship Program (B-HIP) next summer. This spring, she'll spend the semester in Italy. "I've always wanted to visit Italy. It's a great opportunity that the College is giving me."
Dauri (who goes by his mother's last name), is completing his master's degree in higher education administration and student affairs at New England College in Henniker, N.H. In addition to his many activities and experiences, he was an admissions ambassador at MCLA.
"Working with prospective students through the college application process was something I was very passionate about. It was something that I really, really wanted to do," he said.
While Natanael plans to practice international law and Dary aspires to create her own non-profit organization for low-income high or middle school students who want to receive an education in fashion or art, it was MCLA President Mary K. Grant who prompted Dauri's career choice. He wants to be a college president.
"The way that President Grant interacts with students is inspiring," said Dauri, who majored in interdisciplinary studies. "I'd never seen that before. At other institutions, that's not the case. Other presidents are not as involved with their students. They're not as interactive with the community. That was something I learned from President Grant. She's amazing.
"Everything I did at MCLA made me want to do what I'm doing now - working with students," he added. "Whether it's a challenge like public speaking or being proactive in my classes, I have MCLA to thank for it. MCLA gave me the foundation that I was able to build on."