“I was skeptical about attending UMass Amherst because it’s a state school,” says Mello Barros ’12 (political science/accounting). “It didn’t take long for me to realize that I’d made a great decision. Internationally, UMass has an outstanding reputation—and I know this firsthand from my study abroad experience. Amherst has been ranked the best college town in the US, and anyone who lives here will see why. UMass has been a terrific experience at a price that really can’t be beat.”
A resident of Brockton, MA, son of Cape Verdean immigrants, and avid soccer fan, Barros chose UMass because of its many fields of study. “I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to major in,” he says. Ultimately, Barros chose accounting as a way to combine his interest in mathematics and business. The political science major sprung out of his interest in the 2008 Presidential election. “In both instances, I became instantly hooked on the course material,” he says. “And faculty in both departments have been extremely helpful. Office visits, I think, show professors that a student really wants to learn.”
Barros’ overall academic experience has been very positive, too. “The GenEds I took, like “Cancer and AIDS” and “My Body My Health,” have been among the most eye-opening classes imaginable. Even my 8:00 a.m. economics elective was entertaining enough to get me out of bed.”
Career fairs on campus help students find internships, and Barros took full advantage of this resource. “Over the three summers since freshman year, I’ve had four internships,” Barros says. “One was in the office of Congressman Stephen Lynch, three were with major financial organizations, PriceWaterhouseCoopers (twice, but with different responsibilities) and John Hancock Financial. Internships give you the advantage of gaining hands-on experience in a career field, and they are trial runs that allow you to determine if a potential employer is the right fit for you and vice versa.”
Another great campus resource is the International Programs Office. “Through them I found study abroad opportunities in Manchester, England, and Cape Town, South Africa for my junior year,” Barros says. “I’d never traveled outside of the US and the experience gave me a more global perspective. I was very open to learning about other cultures, and I grew greatly as an individual.” Barros notes that many students choose not to study abroad because of high costs. IPO helped him find several funding opportunities, including the Ansin Study Abroad Fellowship from SBS and Gilman International Scholarship, significantly reducing his financial burden.
Speaking of scholarships, Barros also received a 2011–12 SBS Dean’s Opportunity Scholarship. This competitive academic merit award will help him offset some of his senior year expenses. “Because I’m taking 21 credits this semester, textbook fees are going to be high, so I’m really grateful for the support,” Barros says.
Intramural team sports in which Barros plays and officiates counterbalance academics. He also points to cultural nights hosted by organization such as Cape Verdean Student Alliance, Haitian American Student Association, Casa Dominicana, and South Asian Students Association. A member of the Student Alumni Association, Barros also enjoys rooting for the Minutemen at football, soccer, hockey and basketball games. As for the nightlife, Barros says to those considering UMass, “be prepared to have a good time! Overall there is a great balance between academics and social life. Just remember to hit the books before enjoying the night life.”
In the future Barros expects to go into public accounting after graduation. “After a couple of years,” he says, “I’d like to earn an MBA and then work for the financial sector of government. I think that will put my degree in political science and accounting to good use.”