“I feel like I can contribute a lot.”
YPT alumna Reyna Rios was born to be a teacher. Quiet and gentle yet determined, she exudes patience, compassion and a commitment to social justice: hallmarks of a person bound to make a deep impact on the lives of young people.
Reyna’s love of teaching began at home, when one of her younger sisters was trying to learn how to write the letter A. “She was having such a difficult time of it!” Reyna says. “So I remember just helping her to write it, and how happy she felt after she did it...that was the moment I went, ‘Maybe I can keep doing this for the rest of my life.’”
So began Reyna’s journey to fulfill her dream: a journey that, to YPT’s great delight, has taken her through our program and even into our workshops as a classroom volunteer. First introduced to YPT when the In-School Playwriting Program came to her 11th grade English class at Bell Multicultural High School, Reyna quickly recognized the importance and value of arts education. “Sharing something about what you think, what you believe in...with the people that [are] close to you...it was really encouraging,” she says.
Reyna’s play, A Loving Heart, was performed in New Writers Now! Fight for Family at GALA Hispanic Theatre in 2012. Seeing it onstage encouraged her to continue with YPT, and she enrolled in the Young Playwrights’ Workshop that year. “With the Workshop, I was able to come out [of my shell] and say, ‘I’m Reyna! Let’s come together and make a play, share ideas and inspire our generation to do something more.’” Through creating theater with her peers, Reyna built friendships that will last a lifetime—including one with Workshop member Edwin Martinez, now her boyfriend of five years.
Having been given the opportunity to create worlds for herself, Reyna then set about creating those opportunities for other young people. She began volunteering in YPT workshops at Tubman Elementary School and the Maret School, and gained an even deeper appreciation for how education can change lives. “At home, [students] are not really hearing, ‘You can become a doctor, an engineer.’ I’m hoping that [as a teacher] I would be able to inspire them to want more for themselves, want more for their families.”
Through her amazing work as a YPT playwright, performer and in-class volunteer, Reyna Rios has already inspired countless DC-area youth to follow their dreams. We can’t wait to see where her dream takes her, and know that no matter where she ends up, she will always be a beloved part of the YPT family!