After her first semester of grueling commutes from Westborough to UMass Boston, Samantha Rincon escaped to Disney World.
“I took a semester off, and I worked at a place here called Disney Quest, which is like a five floor interactive theme park.”
Through the Disney College Program Rincon learned to run all of the attractions.
“They’d put you in an apartment and you live with all of the people that you work with, and you get access to the parks for free.”
She was 19 at the time and obsessed with Disney’s High School Musical. The stars of that movie, Zach Efferon and Venessa Hodgens visited the park and got private tour for the day.
“I told the tour guide I want to be the person that takes them all around. So he told me the processes. I asked my mom if I could just stay and not go back to school, and she said no, so I went back to UMass and moved into Harbor Point, went to school and did everything. I still came here maybe once a year with those friends that I had met during the college program.”
Back at UMB, Rincon decided to became an orientation leader as practice for her dream job.
“It was pretty amazing to see like all of the new kids coming in and showing them around.”
Rincon made it her mission to create social experiences on campus.
“A lot of people weren’t too excited that it was a commuter school, so just explaining to them all of the things that we still had to offer, even though you are still commuting to the school every day.”
She joined the Student Arts and Events Council (SAEC).
“I am a people person, and I like learning from experiences,” she says. “There are people from so many different places in the world, and learning about other communities and how they lived and all of their traditions. I had a pretty well rounded group of friends. We were all very different.”
In SAEC, Rincon helped plan free events to encourage students to gather in the Campus Center ballrooms to see magicians or comedians, or to make wax hands and paint frisbees and hats in the plaza. It was all about giving students an opportunity to hang out with other students on campus.
“I was definitely more of an activities person,” she says. “My dance and theater classes were great. The professors were always very knowledgable.”
Working in student life, Rincon had a cubical down the hall from the Student Media Office. She became good friends with some writers for the student newspaper, and that is how she met Ryan Thomas.
“We would talk while he was working, and while I was working, and then he started coming to a couple of our events, especially our speakers.”
Their romance really began at SAEC’s yearly ski trip to Pike’s Peak. “We did that at the first Saturday of every year, and he went to the ski trip, and we clicked right there, on that bus ride to the mountain.”
It was the first time they’d hung out on their own.
“We actually date our anniversary from our Pat’s Peak trip, and it was actually the date we got married on as well.”
During the ski trips Rincon always stayed in the lounge, helping people with meal vouchers watching out for injuries, while while everyone else hit the mountain.
“Ryan would go out and snowboard, and then he’d come back and sit in the lodge with me for a couple of hours and just talk with me, and it was a little awkward sometimes because my cousin was right there, but it was definitely fun, and ever since then we pretty much didn’t stop talking.”
Ryan and Samantha became fixtures at UMB events, and Rincon’s face still appears on some UMB promotional materials.
“I’ve seen my picture hanging up on some of the fences and stuff like that, so that was cool to see that those pictures that I took six years ago. they’re still there, and they’re still being used.”
One proud moment in Rincon’s time in SAEC was when she helped Mike Metzger, student president, place a statue of a lighthouse next to the athletics center.
“We realized that we didn’t have our mascot really anywhere, and we have a pretty unique mascot. So we worked together with the Beacon athletics teams. We wanted to make sure that we could have one somewhere, so when other schools would visit, they could see that we had school pride, which I think was something that was missing when we first started.”
While dating Ryan Thomas, Rincon followed the hockey team and watched most of their games.
“They made it kind of far so we did the whole get on a bus so we could go to their game. I tried to be involved in as much as I could with anything that had to do with school spirit, to feel like I was a part of that school community.”
After graduating, Rincon moved to Florida and became a VIP tour guide at Disney World. She’s given tours to a few celebrities, including Mariah Cary, but mostly she gives families a personal experience at the park.
“They enter through the fast pass entrance of all of the attractions, which is like a quicker entrance, and they can also have VIP seating for shows and parades, so I’m basically like their walking talking map concierge person.”
Looking back on her experience at UMass Boston, Rincon’s glad she got involved in student life, and left her imprint on the UMass Boston community.
“I think a lot of people rule it out because it is a commuting school, and I think it’s so much more than that. I know plenty of people that have graduated, and work in amazing places all around the country.”
“You never know where all of those experiences and all of those classes, and all of those events and all of those things at UMass will take you.”