Finishing Strong: An Interview with Samantha Reynoso
Student: Samantha Reynoso
When Samantha Reynoso returned to UW-Parkside to finish her Bachelor’s degree, she initially intended to push through online classes, avoid any additional experiences, and finish as quickly as possible. Through the support of the Parkside faculty and staff, she soon discovered that she had so much more to learn and to give than she originally thought possible. This is when Samantha found her path to finish strong through a research-based internship right here in Kenosha.
Samantha Reynoso started at Parkside in 1999 but didn’t finish her degree. After a 19-year education hiatus, including a 6-year period during which she worked full time as a mother, she decided to finish what she started, despite the odds: it was during the pandemic, and she had three children attending virtual school from home. As the year progressed, she found herself feeling isolated and unfulfilled taking all her classes online. Samantha discovered a desire to go to graduate school, and after much encouragement from professors and advisors, she found herself motivated to seek opportunities that would bolster her resume in preparation for that next step.
“Sometimes you don’t know how strong you are until you have to face something… Having professors see me and my potential really validated that I could do [this].”
As part of her refreshed aspirations, Samantha conducted two qualitative studies about mothers during the pandemic, a topic certainly close to home for her. After presenting her findings at multiple events and conferences, Dr. Mita Banerjee connected her with Amy Garrigan in Community & Business Engagement, who directed Samantha towards an internship with Building Our Future. Building Our Future is part of Strive Together, a network of nearly 70 communities nationwide focused on uniting community partners towards a shared goal of providing an environment in which everyone can achieve personal potential from cradle to career. Samantha was blown away by the research opportunity with the small but mighty nonprofit – she felt like it was perfectly created for her. In her role, Samantha worked on the Regional Childcare Research Project. She conducted childcare affordability analysis to better understand regional workforce challenges as they relate to childcare and to advocate for actionable changes at the local level. As a result of her work, Samantha developed solutions to change systems for more equitable outcomes and helped lay the groundwork for future research in this area.
“Research gives voice to experience, broadens perspective, and deepens our understanding.”
This experience helped Samantha define what’s possible and what she wants for her future. Samantha shared that her success not only reflects Building Our Future and this community, but that she is also a reflection of Mita, Amy, and her network’s work. The people with whom she established these relationships showed her that there is more than one avenue for how to get to your goal.
“The more relationships you build, you are going to find those paths forward… Talk to professors, advisors, and other people in your ideal roles. Parkside is very good at supporting their nontraditional students!”
Samantha graduated with honors in May of 2022. Samantha has since accepted a position with Milwaukee Succeeds, also part of the Strive Together network, as their Early Childhood Education Data Analyst.
Experiential Education Specialist
Office of Community & Business Engagement