As a Marine and military police officer for the presidential unit, Santos Reyes has saluted a laundry list of the world’s most powerful people.
Reyes — you’d see him on CNN or Fox News saluting the president outside of the presidential helicopter — has made trips with the presidential brigade to Cuba and Europe and to worldwide summits.
He’s saluted Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump and been up close with world dignitaries like Pope Francis and Meghan Markle.
Was there ever anyone that Reyes was completely floored to see?
“Yeah,” said Reyes, who is getting his master’s in criminology from Regis’ College of Contemporary Liberal Studies. “Gen. (Jim) Mattis. Man, my heart was beating. He pulled up in front of me and I wanted to shake his hand. You have to stay in this facade. There is a reason you’re selected for this job. You’re the epitome of the Marines. When people take a picture of the president or some other dignitary, you’re the Marine that is there. You have to hold yourself to the highest standard.”
Reyes’ road to Regis has seen multiple stops, which have helped him become comfortable in his role as a student. Reyes works in the Veterans Resource Center, where he helps other veterans advance their education.
Reyes grew up in Oxnard, California, outside of Los Angeles, eventually playing baseball at Colorado State University-Pueblo. After he graduated he wasn’t sure what to do. His dad and older sister were both cops and encouraged him to check out the Marines. He graduated in May of 2013 and was in boot camp that June.
“My dad pushed us in the right direction,” he said. “We grew up in a place where it’s easy to fall into doing the wrong things. When I got into the Marines, I could tell I was a little more mature. I was 24 years old. I had had more life experiences out in the real world. I knew when they were yelling in my face that it wasn’t personal.”
Reyes left the Marines in 2016 and knew he wanted to help people in a bigger way. He got married in 2017, and because his wife’s family was in Colorado, they moved here. He knew he wanted to pursue federal or local law enforcement. With time left on his G.I. Bill, he looked around for criminology programs. His sister-in-law suggested he look at Regis because of the University’s Jesuit values. She told him they weren’t far from Marine ideals.
“The idea of cura personalis is the same thing we had in the military,” he said.
Now slated to graduate in December, Reyes is thankful he chose Regis. Not only does it provide support for veterans, but the faculty in the College of Contemporary Liberal Studies have helped him prepare for the next step in his career.
What that is, he isn’t quite sure. Regardless, Reyes knows he has the skills to thrive.
“Always a student and never a teacher. The desire to learn should always be there,” he said. “If you’re unsure you want to go back to school, stop testing the water and take the leap.”