(This article first appeared in the Belen Jesuit Alumni Magazine, Winter 2021 edition)
Each generation of Belen men has developed its own special way to share experiences as Wolverines, from Father Cartaya‘s jokes to Father Willie's “To The Band of Brothers" column. Now, a new generation of Belen storytellers is paving the way to reach a greater audience than ever before with the Because Belen Podcast
, hosted by Bryan Herrera '06 and Jordan Sánchez '06.
In the midst of the pandemic, the Office of the Alumni Association and the Board of Directors knew it was vital to keep the brotherhood connected and supporting each other in their work. It was during one such Alumni Virtual Event (AVE) that Herrera realized that he had the means and the skills to do just that. “I saw the excitement this event brought to the speakers and the viewers. It hit me right then and there that the Belen community had so much value, resources, experience, and overall knowledge that they were looking to pass on, however, didn't have many means by which to do so.
Herrera tapped his classmate and fellow entertainment industry professional, Jordan Sánchez and pitched him the idea.
“Bryan and I have worked together in the past on different entertainment-based projects. So when he called me to pitch a Belen-based podcast idea, I was immediately interested," said
Sánchez. “I thought this was a no-brainer. I also thought it would be very fitting for Belen to move into the podcast space, as Belen has always been on the cutting edge of technology and
A podcast was the perfect platform to share Belen's storied past, keep up with current issues facing the greater community and look to the future with up-and-coming Belen legends. Herrera has been excited at the prospect, “We hope that Belen Alumni can walk away with a few laughs, valuable information about the Belen community, and as a way to connect with one another either by reminiscing on their time at Belen. I know that while producing these episodes, different classmates pop into my head, and immediately after the podcast, I reach out to them. I hope that this is a common effect for all alumni regardless of the year, and this podcast can be a conversation starter between the Belen family that may not speak as often as they would like."
That integral connection is why the podcast was named “Because Belen." Jordan Sánchez elaborates, “For me, Belen has always been a place to hone and refine your real-world skills, but, most importantly, to better yourself as a human being. ‘Because Belen' simply signifies those things that stay with you forever. Work ethic, discipline, and brotherhood are the things that Belen helped me develop. But the most important thing I received because of my time here is the desire and need to be a man for others. Our motto, ‘Men For Others, is the ultimate embodiment of charity, success, discipline, empathy, and respect. Because of Belen, I learned that true success means nothing if you aren’t giving back."
The response across the generations has been incredible. In just 12 short weeks, over 2,000 listeners have logged onto Apple Podcasts and Spotify to listen to the podcast. “You know alumni are listening when they call asking about the next podcast and start giving you ideas for future ones," shared Carlos Bravo '86, executive director of the Alumni Association.
Listener Nicolás Roca '16 shares why he's a fan, “The podcast is very intriguing. Listening to the podcast feels like a curtain being opened to behind the scenes of the history of Belen. The hosts bring great energy to each episode. My favorite episode so far had to be the one featuring Mr. Collins and Mr. Cleveland. The stories of how they ended up getting hired at Belen, and the experiences they have had while working at the school for the past decades were unbelievable."
This podcast is also for future alumni, the students that are following in the 166-year tradition of living out their Belen story. Herrera hopes to encourage young Wolverines, “We hope that the younger generations can walk away with a few messages that I know I personally struggled with growing up, which is that failure is not an option, it is the ONLY option. What this means to me is that so many people are scared to take a shot because of the fear of missing it. But the only way to get better at something is trying, failing, learning, getting better, and trying again. On this podcast we touch on the success stories the guests are sharing, but also the journey it took them to get there. Everybody always wants to talk about the finish line and how they are in first place. But we seldom hear about the countless hours of practice, failure, and disappointment along the way, that got them there."
Sánchez adds, “I hope that students will be able to hear the success stories of those who went to Belen and feel inspired to take on the challenges of the future. I hope teachers and faculty will find an efficient medium of communication for Belen happenings. I hope parents find this podcast to be a window into the lives of their sons who attend Belen. And, for everyone else listening, I hope this intensifies the beam of light that emits from Belen as a place (and community) of welcoming, friendship, and leadership."
The Because Belen Podcast is available on Apple Podcasts