The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Aaliyah Quintal

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Hello everyone! My name is Aaliyah Quintal and I am a junior English and Communication double major here at UMass. I grew up in Fall River, Massachusetts, which is about two hours away from UMass. As for a little about myself, I love fashion, gaming, red lipstick, and enjoying the sites around Amherst. In my time here at UMass I have been involved in the Koffee Haus Event Series, Women for UMass, the Academic Fellows Program, and I am currently a Peer Advisor for the Communication department. 

My time at UMass thus far has been an incredible experience that has enhanced me socially, academically, and professionally, all of which I am incredibly thankful for. I do not regret my decision to attend UMass in the slightest. The number of opportunities on campus has encouraged me to flourish and the support system I have here had my back since day one. UMass is a wonderful place, and I encourage anyone considering UMass to take advantage of the multitude of opportunities here, you will not regret it! 

Why did you choose your major?

I chose a double major in English and Communication for one simple reason, the broadness of both majors. English and Communication are very open majors. The skills that one can learn from both can easily be applied to many fields, which is extremely appealing to me. I am someone who is always searching for something new and exciting, and that truly extends into my professional life, so I could not see myself majoring in something that was very specific and limited my career options. My current after-college goals are to break into the fields of marketing, human resources or higher education and both my majors will help me explore any of my desired fields of interest. While I genuinely love the course work in both of my majors, each majors adaptability is a big selling point for me. 

Where do you live on campus?

I currently live in Southwest in one of the towers, but I previously lived in Central during my freshman and sophomore year. While both residential areas have their perks, I loved my time in both areas equally and I do not regret my decision to live in either. So, why did I make the move from Central to Southwest after two years? Simple — I wanted change. I knew that I would only be at UMass for two more years, so why not spice things up and try out a new residential area? It was perfect timing as many of my close friends were moving off-campus, so I took the chance and moved to a new area of campus. This was one of the best decisions I have made thus far at UMass. Living in a new area not only freshened things up, but I got to experience UMass in a new light. I highly recommend trying out a new residential area on campus during your time here at UMass. Why not explore everything UMass has to offer?

What is something that everyone at UMass should do before graduating?

Attend a UMass athletic game! While admittedly I am not the biggest sports fan, attending a UMass game was one of the best experiences I had on campus. At games, I easily found myself getting hyped up with the energetic crowd around me. I fed off their excitement as friends and strangers alike banded together to support UMass. The thrill and pride of sports culture is something that I have always admired and experiencing that while cheering on your university is truly wonderful. Even if you are not into sports, attend a UMass game! It will be well worth it, win or lose. 

If you have any questions about UMass or my experience feel free to reach out at

My Content

How I've Been Spending My Winter Break

A photo of a snowy UMass campus with the text, How I've Been Spending my Winter Break.

Good old winter break. A much needed time of relaxation that never feels long enough to truly satisfy my need to curl up in bed with no responsibilities and watch Netflix all day. As I am writing this, I am now back at the University of Massachusetts Amherst ready to tackle this new semester. With classes starting in a few days, I have been able to take the time to reflect on what I have been up to this winter break. From getting my first tattoo, spending time with friends and family, traveling, and spending much needed time with my cat and dog, I would say that I had a very enjoyable winter break. 

Letter to my Past Self

 A photo of Aaliyah and her friends from three years ago to currently with the text, A Letter to my Past Self.

Recently, I stumbled upon an old Facebook memory. On December 16, 2016, I posted about my acceptance into the University of Massachusetts Amherst. When my Facebook memories brought up the post, I could not believe that it had already been three years since I was first accepted. I sent a screenshot of the post to some of my friends here at UMass, and we all could not believe how old we felt. It was surreal to see that letter again after all these years, especially with my time here at UMass quickly coming to a close. This letter resurfacing made me stop and think about who I was then and who I have become now. While I am incredibly proud of the person I was, there is so much I wish I could go back and tell myself. With this in mind, here are four things I wish I could tell my past self before embarking on my journey here at UMass. 

Semester Recap: An Overview of my Fall 2019

A group of UMass student walking with the text, Semester Recap: An Overview of my Fall 2019

As I am writing this, I am happy to say that I am officially done with the semester. It is crazy to think that I have already wrapped up the fall semester of my junior year. With the semester concluded, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on it. Truthfully, this was one of my favorite semesters here at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. All my classes were really enjoyable and I had a lot of exciting new opportunities on campus, like this job with the admissions office! With this in mind, I thought it would be fun to recap my semester and the courses I took to hopefully give you all not only a glimpse of what a typical semester is like here at UMass, but some courses to look into during your time here. 

Five Things You Can Do with Your Time Now That You Have Applied to College

A group of UMass students with the text, five things you can do with your time now that you have applied to college

For prospective college students, the process of applying to colleges can be very lengthy and time consuming. From narrowing down your applications, writing your college essay, touring colleges, and much more, your college application process can span over a period of a year or even more. Having applied to college more than three years ago, I still vividly remember how much time and effort went into my applications. I wanted everything to be perfect, and this was the only chance I had to make a good impression on these colleges. While admittedly I was pretty stressed out during the majority of the process, I still remember how freeing it was to finally hit the submit button on the Common Application.

Finals at UMass

A group of students studying with the text, Finals at UMass.

Final exam season is likely one of the most dreaded periods on any college campus. From late nights at the library, way too much coffee, and really regretting that you spent all of your dining dollars earlier in the semester, final exam season can be a little stressful. Thankfully, finals week is also marked by de-stress events with puppies, lots of free food and gear, and other free events.

Research at UMass: A Glimpse into the UMass FAM Laboratory

A group of students working in a lab with the text, Research at UMass: A Glimpse into the UMass FAM Laboratory

The University of Massachusetts Amherst, the Commonwealth’s flagship public research university, is one of the nation's top universities for research as measured by national and international rankings, academic citations, and research funding. The campus spends more than $200 million on research each year, demonstrating its contribution to the nation’s position as a technological and economic leader. Being such a large and well-resourced research university, undergraduate research is part of the UMass Amherst experience.

Applying to College vs. Applying to Jobs: My Perspective

A photo with students and a teacher with the text, Applying to College vs. Applying to Jobs.

As a junior at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, I have been on both sides of the spectrum; applying for colleges and applying to jobs. The start of your college career will be marked by applications and so will the end of it — but you will go through big changes during this time period. Thinking about who I was when applying to colleges and who I am now while applying to jobs, I feel like a completely different person with vastly different interests and goals. For myself, it is not that surprising how much I have changed over the years. I have always pictured college, much like searching for your first job, to be a time marked by exploration and self-discovery. 

Art Museums at UMass: University Museum of Contemporary Art

A piece of art with the text,  Art Museums at UMass: University Museum of Contemporary Art

The UMCA, located in the Fine Arts Center here on campus, is a multidisciplinary, international laboratory for the exploration and advancement of contemporary art. The museum is open and welcome to all current and prospective UMass Amherst students and is a hidden gem here on campus, a true must see spot during your time here. 

Registering for Classes: Advice from an Academic Peer Advisor

A photo of three students using their laptops with the title,  Registering for Classes: Advice from an Academic Peer Advisor

Here at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Spire will be your hub over these next four years where you can register for classes, view and pay your bill, pick your housing assignment and much more, so it is really important that you have a solid grasp on the website, something that NSO advisors will run through with you. 

Life as a Resident Assistant at UMass

Group photo of UMass RAs. Text: Resident Assistants at UMass

While it is completely natural to wonder what your residential experience will be like on campus, it is important to remember the support system you will have during your freshman year, right in your residence halls. Closest to your campus home, on your own floor and in your own residence hall, you can look to undergraduate Resident Assistants (RAs) for peer guidance. 

Meet the Major: Nursing

UMass nursing students. Text: "Meet the Major: Nursing"

Few careers give people the ability to not only provide medical aid but bring happiness to individuals and their families, and comfort to those in need. Nurses are the backbone of the medical field and often provide unique attention to their patients that extend beyond medical care. Nursing is a highly popular and competitive major here at the University of Massachusetts Amherst for just that reason.

My Experience as a First-Generation College Student

Aaliyah sits on a bench with her mom and smiles on the campus of the University of Massachusetts

I am a first-generation college student. As defined by the Common Application Systems, this means that neither of my parents completed a baccalaureate degree. Nearly a third of undergraduate students in the United States are first-generation and here at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, about 25 percent of the population of each entering class is first-generation, revealing that a majority of college students are not first-generation. This means that many college students likely have a parent or relative that understands the collegiate process firsthand and can provide mentorship throughout the student’s journey — a huge resource that many first-generation students lack. It is hard to navigate college and the difficulties that come with it on your own, especially when your own parents do not understand what it is like in your shoes. Being first-generation comes with many challenges and benefits. Here is what my experience has been like as a first-generation college student at UMass Amherst. 

Meet the Major: Architecture

Architecture student working on a model. Text: Meet the Major: Architecture

Meet Emma, a junior Architecture major and Building and Construction Technology minor here at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Life as an architecture student here is a riveting experience packed with model building, software design, artistic expression, critical thinking, and an interactive classroom environment that prove to be great preparation for one’s career. Here is a glimpse of what life is like as an architecture student here at UMass Amherst from Emma’s perspective.