Damaso Reyes, ’92 focused his high school search on finding an environment similar to VCS: progressive and student-centered, with an emphasis on discussion, communication and strong student-staff relationships. He found the right fit in Calhoun, and went on to earn a degree in Photography from NYU Tisch School of the Arts. Today, Domaso is an independent journalist, artist and media literacy expert based in Barcelona, Spain.
VCS: How do you think your experiences at VCS helped you to identify the right high school for you?
DR: VCS taught me that there was a different way to learn, one that was focused on what the student needed and not rote memorization. I engaged with my teachers at VCS in a way I hadn’t anywhere else up until then.
VCS: Were there any internships, work experiences or study abroad programs during high school/college that made a particular impact on you?
DR: In high school, I was an intern at the NY Amsterdam News, New York’s most important African-American newspaper. That experience cemented my desire to become a journalist and photographer and tell the stories of marginalized communities.
VCS: Tell me more about what you do now.
DR: I am currently an independent journalist, artist and media literacy expert based in Barcelona, Spain. I spent the last 3.5 years working at the News Literacy Project where I was most recently Director of Global Partnerships.
VCS: What does a typical work day look like for you?
DR: There is no typical day! One day I might be on a conference call with a non-profit or an NGO helping them construct a media literacy strategy; another day I might be giving a lecture on media literacy in Lisbon, London or Samoa; on another day I might be attending the reception for an exhibition of my work in Istanbul. I love the fact that my work life is so varied and takes me around the world.
VCS: What do you enjoy most about your work?
DR: As a journalist I love telling stories of those who are often not heard from. As a media literacy educator I love empowering students and educators to understand how to sort through our complex media environment and make informed choices about what to believe and act on.
VCS: Tell me a little about your current family situation. Where are you living? What do you love about it?
DR: I’ve been with my current partner for nearly ten years. She’s a journalist and filmmaker and in that time we’ve lived in the United States, Spain, Norway, Turkey and Switzerland.
We recently moved back to Barcelona, where we lived from 2011-2016. We love the people, the climate and the culture here. It’s full of transplants like us as well as artists. There’s a real sense of community here and it’s easy to become part of the local life.
VCS: What do you love to do in your free time?
DR: I became a runner a few years ago and actually ran the NYC marathon in 2017. So when I’m at home or on the road I try to do some running which is great for clearing my head.
VCS: Are you involved in any volunteering or activism? When did you start to become involved in that work? Why is that work important to you?
DR: In 2015 I donated a kidney to my best friend. Since then I have been active in Mt. Sinai’s Living Donor Mentor program. I talk with those considering donating and help them understand what the process is like. After seeing the transformation in my friend’s life I knew it was important to help others know they can make a difference as well.
VCS: Can you think of a particular moment at VCS that sparked something in you, that helped lead you to what you’re doing now?
DR: I don’t know if there was one moment. I will say I had lots of opportunity to write and I believe that was key to my understanding that I could write and communicate for a living.
VCS: In one sentence, what would you say your VCS education did for you?
DR: It taught me to ask questions and search for answers. It taught me I was worthy of having my questions answered.