Get to know Melvin Reyes, Master's in Finance Student Ambassador


A first-generation college graduate, Melvin Reyes emigrated from El Salvador as a teenager, not speaking a word of English and unsure of his career goals. He persevered, setting his own goal of working in banking, and putting in the work needed to succeed.

Master's in Finance student Melvin Reyes
Melvin Reyes

Now a Student Ambassador for George Mason University’s Donald G. Costello College of Business Master’s in Finance (MSF) program, Reyes represents Costello College of Business graduate programs to the external and internal communities, embodying excellence and sharing his own student experiences to prospective students. Reyes is expected to complete the program in 2024. Recently, we had the opportunity to chat with Reyes to learn more about his journey and why he chose Mason’s MS in Finance program.

Why did you pursue Mason’s MS in Finance degree?
I am a first-generation college graduate. My parents didn't attend college and growing up, I didn't have a family role model to push me further in my education, so I pushed myself to go beyond what was expected of me. We migrated to the U.S. on November 1, 2000 from El Salvador. I didn't speak a word of English and I was placed in 10th grade even though I was finishing 12th grade in my country due to the ESL classes that I needed to take. By 2004, I knew exactly the line of work I wanted to be part of—I wanted to be a banker. I did the research necessary to go after my goal and it paid off.

I obtained my undergraduate degree from the college of William and Mary in finance with a concentration is management and consulting. It was an easy decision for me to choose the MS in Finance program and my continuation in finance, as I wanted to pursue a career in the field. Choosing George Mason University was not difficult at all—I witnessed their growth in Northern Virginia, and I was able to see the number of employers increasing their recruiting efforts at George Mason University. The proximity to campus helped as well.

Can you tell us an interesting fact about yourself?
I have endured many obstacles in both my professional and personal life, but I somehow found a way to move forward. Today, I am a full-time employee, and a part-time MSF student. I tutor finance for Mason's MBA program, undergraduates, and other referrals that come my way. I also have taken key roles in Beta Alpha Psi and the as an outreach ambassador for the Costello College of Business. On top of this, I have a wife and 9-year-old son. I took 13 years off between my undergrad and master's degree programs, so I was able to enjoy life, and now it is the time to focus on enhancing my career and studies. I am proud to have achieved all the goals I set for myself in life and what brings even more joy today, is helping fellow classmates achieve that very same dream. I am not doing it alone. I have a very good family support system who is always cheering me on. So what's an interesting fact about me? I just don't know how to say no.

What are the highlights of your Mason experience so far?
In our venture capital class, our professor brought in three guests to speak with our class. Each of these professionals worked for one of the top financial firms in the world. It was amazing to hear them speak about their work experience and what they do in their professional workplace. We were able to see how everything that we are learning in theory is being applied in real-life mergers and acquisitions, forecasting revenues etc. The class was incredible. This is the one class that I wish I could take again.

What goals do you have for the future?  
My goal is to work for one of the Big Four companies. I am also taking accounting classes so I can take the CPA exam, which will enhance my career. Once my MSF is completed, I plan to continue my education by either pursuing my MBA or JD/MBA. My 15-year goal is to work as a director of finance for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), or work in M&A for Bane Capital. George Mason has one of the best law schools in the country. It will be a privilege to be accepted.

What advice do you have for aspiring candidates in your program?
If you are doing research for a master’s degree program, please speak with one of the counselors at Mason. I am now an MSF ambassador, so if finance is something where you could see yourself in, please reach out to me. I would love the opportunity to share my experience and tell anyone how excellent this program is. I know it can be difficult for some to juggle school, work, family, etc., but I can say with certainty that it is doable. The experience itself will be rewarding and the door that you would open with a master’s degree is endless.

Mason's Master's in Finance program prepares you for a career in commercial banking, investment banking, corporate finance, regulatory finance, or portfolio management. No finance background is required to apply; in fact, the program encourages applications from all quantitative backgrounds such as engineering, math, statistics, physics, and computer science. The program is also the first and only Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) affiliated master’s of finance program in Virginia.

If you’re interested in learning more about Mason’s Master’s in Finance program, register for an upcoming info session or request more information about the program here.