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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

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.

Final Thoughts From A UMass Senior

Aaliyah and her friends outdoors wearing face coverings with the text,  Final Thoughts From A UMass Senior.

As I am writing this, December 4th, 2020, it is officially the last day of finals here at the University of Massachusetts Amherst for the fall 2020 semester. For myself, this marks my final day as an undergraduate student here at UMass Amherst. After three and a half years, I can hardly believe that this lovely chapter is coming to a close. While this may not be the way I envisioned the ending of my time here to look like, I feel incredibly happy with the time I had and all the wonderful memories that I was able to create.  

With my time at UMass Amherst coming to a close, here are my final thoughts and advice as I close this chapter. 

Virtual Internship Experience: Internal Communications at General Motors

University of Massachusetts student Aaliyah pictured on a video call with the CEO of General Motors, Mary Barra, and text reading Virtual Internship Experience: Internal Communications Intern at General Motors

Back in November 2019, I accepted a summer 2020 internship with General Motors. I fully anticipated that I would be moving to Detroit for the summer and working in person at the Renaissance Center, one of GM’s many corporate buildings. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, I ended up working completely virtually from my childhood bedroom in Massachusetts. While I was very intimidated and nervous about conducting such an important internship from a completely different state, now that I have completed my summer with GM, I am incredibly thankful for the virtual experience. 

Here is how my virtual internship experience with General Motors went this summer. 

How to Keep Your UMass Spirit High While Away From Campus

An image of the UMass campus with the text, How to Keep Your UMass Spirit High While Away From Campus.

With most University of Massachusetts classes happening remotely this semester, there are undoubtedly numerous students missing the liveliness and energy of campus life, I know I am! As a final semester senior, I am acutely missing life on campus. With the semester already in full swing, I found myself feeling a bit detached from the semester in my new remote work environment. This had me thinking; how can I bring the energy and spirit of UMass to my new found off-campus workspace? 

Find yourself missing life at UMass Amherst like myself? Here are four ways that you can keep your UMass spirit alive while you are away from campus.

From One Senior to Another: Kolby Silva (Psychology)

An image of Kolby and her sorority sisters with the text, From One Senior to Another: Kolby Silva (Psychology).

Meet Kolby Silva, a senior here at the University of Massachusetts Amherst majoring in psychology with a minor in education and a certificate in social work. Here at the UMass Amherst campus, she is a tour guide, a residential assistant, and a member of Alpha Chi Omega sorority. 

With so many lasting memories made here at the UMass Amherst campus, Kolby’s time here is quickly coming to an end. Senior year, for both high school and college students alike, is a time of change and reflection. To help make this transition a bit more clear and hopefully less stressful, here is Kolby’s advice for high school seniors preparing to embark on their college journeys, from one senior to another.

How to Successfully Work Remotely

A picture of the W. E. B. Du Bois Library with the text, How to Successfully Work Remotely.

For many of us here at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, this is our first entirely remote semester, which could be a significant adjustment for students who are accustomed to traditional face to face learning. You may not have been prepared to turn your living space into your workspace for this entire semester. Suddenly your bedroom, dining room, or even your kitchen has turned into your new classroom and workspace, which can be a rough adjustment especially if you are living with other people who have completely different schedules.

To help make this new normal a bit more manageable, here are four tips for working remotely that will make your experience this semester less stressful and more productive.

The Unexpected Benefits of Remote Work

A women on the computer with the text, The Unexpected Benefits of Remote Work.

Before I started my remote internship with General Motors this summer, I was very skeptical about working remotely, especially a corporate nine to five from my childhood bedroom in Massachusetts. I vividly remember the night before I started my job pacing around my room a nervous mess stressing about how this summer was going to turn out. While I undoubtedly had some uneasiness starting such an important job remotely, I quickly adapted to, and even enjoyed, working remotely this summer. Remote work may seem intimidating, especially as a people person like myself, but I found there to be quite a few unexpected benefits of remote work. 

With my summer complete, here are three unexpected benefits I experienced while working remotely. 

Student perspective: How to start looking for colleges?

An image of the University of Massachusetts campus with the text, Student perspective: How to start looking for colleges?

When I was applying to colleges, I remember spending the summer going into my senior year of high school working on my college applications. I already had my SAT scores (this was before UMass went test optional), my personal statement written (thanks to my wonderful AP Literature teacher), and a list of colleges I wanted to apply to. Having already gone through the process of applying to colleges, read on for my two major tips for students looking to start their college application process.

Living at UMass: How to Pick a Roommate

A image of a University of Massachusetts dorm with the text, Living at UMass: How to Pick a Roommate.

Now that you have officially enrolled in the University of Massachusetts Amherst (congratulations to the class of 2024!) it is the perfect time to start thinking about your living situation for the 2020-2021 school year. While you may have the perfect residential area in mind, finding a roommate for the first time can be stressful for many incoming students. How do you go about finding the perfect roommate for your freshman year of college? 

As someone who has lived on campus all four years and had my fair share of amazing roommates, here are three tips on how to pick the best roommate for you!

A Final Goodbye to our Senior Admissions Interns

An image of Angela McNamara, Xenia Arinez, Jonathan Lang, and Eric Rybicki, with the text  A Final Goodbye to our Senior Admissions Interns.

It is hard to believe that the spring 2020 semester has officially concluded. Though it's had its highs and lows, every student deserves a warm congratulations for pushing through such an unprecedented semester, especially to the graduating seniors. Here on the UMass Amherst Admissions marketing communications team, we have four seniors who are graduating today. Angela McNamara, Xenia Arinez, Jonathan Lang, and Eric Rybicki have been valuable  members of our team and have worked tirelessly to provide engaging content for prospective students. 

To celebrate our graduating team members, here is what the graduating interns here at admissions have to say about their time at UMass Amherst and their advice for the incoming class of 2024. 

Semester Recap: An Overview of my Spring 2020

A view from Washington hall in Southwest with the text, Semester Recap: An Overview of my Spring 2020.

Spring 2020 will be a semester I will remember for the rest of my life. From leaving the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus, shifting to remote learning, not being able to see my friends, to making my childhood room my new workspace, this semester has been a journey. I am so happy that it is almost over; it almost does not even feel real. 

Transitioning to Online Learning

Screenshot of a Zoom meeting with text: "My Transition to Online Learning"

Truthfully, I came into online learning rather skeptical. I have very little experience with Zoom, the online video platform UMass students are using to attend class, and could not imagine how this would function normally. I am so used to physically attending class. How could I possibly focus, or even have the drive, to attend class remotely? I had my doubts about how seamless this transition would be. 

Social Distancing 101: Staying Safe as a Student

A photo of the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus with the text, Social Distancing 101: Staying Safe as a Student.

With everything that is going on in the world, the term “social distancing”, is used now more than ever. Truthfully, before what is currently happening, I did not even know that social distancing was a term let alone how crucial it would be to our wellbeing. So, what is social distancing? As defined by Johns Hopkins Medicine, social distancing is “deliberately increasing the physical space between people to avoid spreading illness”. Now, more than ever, we must follow the guidelines imposed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), even if we feel like it is inconvenient or “boring”. 

How To Remain Productive During Times of Change

An image of students in a University of Massachusetts classroom with the text, How To Remain Productive During Times of Change.

Like many other college students, I have little experience with online courses, let alone taking them from my childhood home. Despite the change, I am determined to make the most out of this situation by placing a lot of focus and passion into my academics. I have been thinking a lot lately about how I will maintain my usual productivity under such different circumstances than I am normally used to. So, how do I plan to remain productive in a time of change and uncertainty? Here are the three things I am doing to stay productive and motivated.

How I’ve Been Spending My Spring Break

A photo of the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus with the text, How I’ve Been Spending My Spring Break.

I originally planned to go to Vermont for a few days with some friends from the University of Massachusetts Amherst during spring break. Despite living in New England the entirety of my life, I have never been to Vermont before so I was excited about this trip. Sadly, with the current state of the world, my friends and I ultimately decided that it would be best to postpone the trip not only for our well-being but for those around us. It was a heartbreaking decision since it would have been my last trip with my friends up at UMass Amherst given that we are moving to online learning after the break, but it was what needed to be done. 

A lot has changed in not only my life but the lives of everyone in the world. While my spring break plans have drastically altered, I still wanted to have an enjoyable and normal break as possible. So, how did I spend my spring break? Here are the three main things I did to make the most out of my time off.

Best Campus Food Celebration: A Glimpse into UMass Dining

A decorative image of food with the text, Best Campus Food Celebration: A Glimpse into UMass Dining.

The University of Massachusetts Amherst is well known for its number one campus dining. With a mission to contribute to the campus life experience by providing a variety of healthy and flavorful meals featuring local, regional, and world cuisine in a sustainable and environmentally conscious manner, UMass Dining is an integral part of the UMass experience.

My Favorite Places on Campus

Four images of places on campus with the text, My Favorite Places on Campus

As a junior here at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, I have explored much of what the campus has to offer. With amazing study areas, a multitude of phenomenal eateries, working out at our recreation center, and much more, I have discovered many places here on campus that I love dearly. But even as a junior, there are plenty of areas here on campus that I have yet to fully explore. To help incoming students discover some of the wonderful locations at UMass, here are some of my favorite places on campus.

Dispelling UMass Myths

A picture of the UMass campus with the text, Dispelling UMass Myths.

Almost everything has myths, even colleges. When I first decided to attend the University of Massachusetts Amherst, I thought I knew everything there was to know about the school. Needless to say, I found that many of my assumptions to be wrong, especially once I came to know the school on my own.

How I'm Getting Ready for Post-Grad Life

A photo of graduation caps being thrown in the air with the text, How I'm Getting Ready for Post-Grad Life.

My time in college is quickly dwindling. It feels like just yesterday I was a nervous freshman frantically refreshing Google Maps in attempts to find my way around campus. Looking back, it always makes me laugh when remembering how much of a lost puppy I was. Now, I could map the campus with my eyes closed. But in a few short months, my vision of campus will only be a far off memory. 

I have a lot of fond memories here at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, but I am eager to flourish into adult life. My internship experiences have given me a taste of the corporate workforce, and I have been missing it since I left. While my future is uncertain, uncertainty excites me, and so does a challenge.

Working on Campus: How to Balance Work, School, and Life

A group of UMass students with the text, Working on Campus: How to Balance Work, School, and Life.

So, where do I find a job? Whether you are looking for a job on or off-campus, a work-study or non-work-study position, the undergraduate Student Employment Office (SEO) is the place to start. The SEO provides a listing service with a wide variety of student part-time and seasonal jobs. This student job board is where active student job opportunities can be found, which are updated daily. Students may also contact an on-campus department directly if interested in working in a certain academic or administrative area. You may also review job boards at some of the largest on-campus employers including, Auxiliary Services, the LibrariesResidential Life and Transit Services.

My Proudest Project

An image of a video with the text, My Proudest Project.

Last semester I decided to step out of my comfort zone and enroll in COMM 231 - Film & TV Production Concepts. My focus in communication studies has always been more centered in media and popular culture theory, never in the extensive film and production classes offered by the department. I always knew that this style of courses was available, I was just too insecure in my skills to ever bite the bullet. Finally, last semester, I decided to enroll in COMM 231. While the content of this course challenged me, I cannot deny how much I learned. In this class, I ended up creating my proudest project I have ever done here at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, a video essay on a former UMass student, Maura Murray

Meet the Major: English

A photo of South College with the text, Meet the Major: English

I applied to the University of Massachusetts Amherst as an English major back in 2017. Throughout the entirety of my schooling, I have always been fascinated by literature. I was a textbook book worm. I always had my nose in a book and I was constantly on the hunt for the next piece of literature I could get my hands on. When I was in high school, my love for English flourished. I took Advanced Placement Literature and the course challenged me to explore the depth of the discipline, and left me hungry for more. Back in high school I also had the most compassionate and vibrant English teacher, and her passion for the subject led in part to my decision to pursue a career in English. Despite adding a secondary major in communication, my love for English is still as strong as ever. 

Things I learned at UMass outside of class

A photo of the UMass campus with the text, Things I learned at UMass outside of class.

College is a pivotal time of learning in a student’s life. While you will without a doubt be learning in the classroom, I think a lot of people underestimate how much students grow outside of it as well. Looking back at who I was in high school, I cannot believe how different I am and how much I have grown. My time in college has taught me crucial skills and has given me experiences that I will hold with me for the rest of my life. So, what have I learned outside of the classroom? Let’s take a look at three of the things that I have learned at the University of Massachusetts Amherst outside of the classroom.

College Cooking

A photo of UMass Dining workers with the text, College Cooking.

As much as I love food, especially the number one campus dining offered here at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, I am an awful cook. I do not even think that I am capable of cooking a simple dish at the moment, that is how awful I am. Given that I am moving away on my own this summer for work, I am scrambling to learn how to cook before I starve to death or run solely on carry out. Thankfully, my wonderful friends that live off-campus treat me to their phenomenal cooking whenever I come over. Over this semester, I have been shadowing each meal preparation so that I can to finally teach myself how to cook.

How to Decide on a Major

UMass postcards with the text, How to Decide on a Major.

The University of Massachusetts Amherst offers more than 90 undergraduate majors residing in 10 schools and colleges. UMass Amherst even gives students the option to design their major through the Bachelor's Degree with Individual Concentration (BDIC). On top of this, UMass is home to a multitude of minors and certificate programs, giving students even more pathways to explore their interests and passions. 

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. 

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

University of Massachusetts 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.

Five Helpful Tips for your First Time Packing for College

Dormitories at the University of Massachusetts Amherst

Tips from Aaliyah, a junior Communication and English double major at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

I vividly remember my first time moving into UMass Amherst. I woke up bright and early on First Year Move-In Day, stuffed my small Elantra with anything and everything I could, and took off on my two-hour journey to UMass Amherst. I remember thinking everything was a dorm room essential.