Multilingual Lawyer Arturo Reyes ’12 Always Trusts His Gut

The venue was booked; the airline tickets purchased; even relatives from Mexico were coming to the wedding in Chianti, Italy. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

For Arturo Reyes ’12, celebrating his union in Italy with his partner, Michael MacDonald, and their friends and family would be more than just your standard destination wedding. Growing up, Arturo’s aunt and grandmother regaled the family with stories of the art, food, and environs of their time living in Italy.

imageArturo embraces his global upbringing, as he was born in California, attended early education in Mexico City, and spent his childhood in Ventura County’s agriculture centers. So, he seized the opportunity to study abroad in Padua, Italy for a year as an undergraduate.

Through the Migrant Education Program at Oxnard High School, Arturo visited a number of college campuses. When he arrived at Berkeley, he had a gut feeling that this was the place for him. The host committee of Latinx and Chicanx college students assuaged any uncertainties that the first-generation high schooler had about finding community at Cal.

imageAs a freshman living in Casa Magdelena Mora, Arturo immersed himself in UC Berkeley’s global and diverse community. Arturo chose a political economy major and Italian studies minor. He joined the Phi Alpha Delta pre-law fraternity, where he had the opportunity to have one-on-one conversations with lawyers and judges. Arturo also participated in the Latino Business Student Association, where he took advantage of resume reviews, mock interviews, and networking events. Through these experiences, Arturo built lifelong mentoring relationships.

For many college students, study abroad programs are seen as a luxury or boondoggle. Arturo’s parents and classmates warned him about the potential risks to his career of taking this detour. Yet, Arturo could not get his tia’s stories of Italy out of his head. He trusted his gut again and found an Italian-language immersion program at Università degli studi di Padova. When he returned to Cal for his senior year, his advisor recommended that he turn his minor in Italian studies into a second major.

imageAfter graduation, Arturo was selected into Michael Bloomberg’s highly competitive Urban Fellows Program in New York City. He oversaw a portfolio of grants to local nonprofits, supported the city’s Hurricane Sandy response, and worked with NYC’s first Food Policy Coordinator Kim Kessler. After his fellowship ended, Arturo joined a law firm in NYC, where he used his fluency in Spanish and Italian to assist clients facing a variety of legal issues. He also fell in love with Michael, a native New Yorker, who coincidentally lived in Ventura County as a kid.

After attending a summer program at Yale School of Management, while Arturo gained a new network and understanding of the MBA career path, he confirmed that he wanted to focus his graduate pursuits on becoming a lawyer. He returned to California to attend UC Hastings Law, where he explored criminal, environmental, and food law. He is currently an associate attorney with Keller and Heckman LLP’s food and drug law practice in San Francisco.

Arturo and Michael will get married this fall in a pandemic-appropriate, intimate ceremony in Ventura County. They look forward to bringing everyone to Italy in the future.


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