Today with a private practice in Austin and married to his high school sweetheart, Rico says his family is his greatest achievement, and he’s no stranger to achievements. In high school, he was a competitive athlete, Vice President of Student Council, voted “Most Likely to Succeed,” and the class valedictorian. He was also the first Bastrop High School graduate to attend Harvard University, where he earned a B.A. in government before going on to law school.
Determination propelled him to where he is now, but he says it’s BISD and the Bastrop community that prepared him for the future. What he didn’t learn in the classroom, he learned from the people in Bastrop, his neighbors, and friends. Their motivation and grit built his character, and teachers nurtured his ambition and thirst for learning. In the classroom, he was given a traditional education, but he credits the teachers at Bastrop ISD for instilling something far more special, something that wasn’t found in a textbook: humanity.
Teachers like Barbara Walker and Patsy Trigg showed compassion by treating every student the same regardless of their economic or cultural background. They were there for one reason: to educate all students. Reyes says the crowning lesson in humanity, and ultimately his inspiration, came from an unlikely place however -- the high school cafeteria. Shortly before graduating, Bastrop High School cafeteria workers collected twenty dollars for Rico as a graduation present. At the time, minimum wage was less than four dollars an hour. For the workers to give of their hard-earned dollars was a lesson in love and goodwill that he still holds close to his heart. That moment led him down a path of public service and a crusade for helping others.
Being an attorney and an Officer in the United States Marine Corps has taken Rico around the globe and introduced him to people from all walks of life. Those experiences shaped his outlook on life and how important it is to give back and help others meet their needs. Serving others gave him courage when he was fearful and motivation when he was tired.
When he talks to young people today, he hopes they realize he was once in their shoes and that they’ll hear his words and be inspired to overcome obstacles and reach for success. Though Reyes wears his success like a fine watch, he says he never forgets his roots. He hopes other BISD alumni will be inspired to mentor students needing direction and a positive role model as well. Young people need to know there’s life beyond the four walls of a classroom and even beyond what they’ve come to know and love about their hometown. They need supportive adults like the ones he found in Bastrop so many years ago.
(Rico & classmate Erica Schlickeisen)
He then shared a quote of the words of Jacob Marley’s ghost in A Christmas Carol, “Any Christian spirit working kindly in its little sphere, whatever it may be, will find its mortal life too short for its vast means of usefulness. Not to know that no space of regret can make amends for one life’s opportunities misused…Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence were all my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business.”
Rico Reyes knows what it’s like to go to school with holes in his shoes and still attend Harvard. He knows no matter a child’s economic background, where they live, or what struggles they face, if they go to class and channel their determination and ambition, the sky’s the limit.
Wherever you want to go in life, Rico Reyes proves you can get there from Bastrop ISD.
BISD News ~ Department of Communications & Community Services
Bastrop Independent School District, 906 Farm Street, Bastrop, TX 78602 ~ 512-772-7100