December 15, 2021

This is MIT: The Becerra Brothers

This is MIT: The Becerra brothers are the first smiles you see in Alumni/Wang.

MIT Recreation members who regularly visit the department’s more intimate facility, the Alumni Pool and Wang Fitness Center, are always greeted by the shining faces of the Becerra brothers, Daniel and Alejandro.

Daniel has been an integral part of the facility since 2016 when he got his start at MIT Recreation. He explains that it was clear, even in the early days, that this was a community he wanted to be a part of. Almost three years later, Alejandro was looking to find a new way to connect with people, Daniel suggested he consider MIT Rec. A position in member services eventually opened up. Quickly after starting, Alejandro explains, the community Daniel had raved about welcomed him fully with open arms.

“Everyone is friendly. You truly feel like you belong,” Alejandro says of the community around Cambridge and MIT specifically. “Everyone here makes sure that you feel comfortable and happy [and]… This is one of the things I love about the community. They are so welcoming; they are so friendly.”

While speaking with them for this story, no less than three patrons waved and addressed the pair by name as they tapped into the facility. At one point, Daniel paused to inform a regular, that her daily swim time might be subject to change with Alumni Holiday hours. These warm interactions give the sense that this kind of personal approach is deeply embedded in the culture the two brothers foster in the Alumni/Wang space.

Alejandro ultimately got his start at MIT Recreation during the pandemic so the level of interaction between the desk staff and the patrons was different than it had been for Daniel and the more seasoned staff. “People didn’t want to be [too] close to you.” Alejandro explains. “So there was more effort to try to break the ice [with regard to safety precautions] ” Alumni staff strives to strike a balance between community and safety measures.

This extra effort seemingly comes second nature to the Becerra brothers. For Daniel, he says he considers what each and every patron may be going through, what their personal goals may be, and what they may need from the first face they meet coming in the door.

“[For Recreation], it’s not just about support, but it’s also about being there for each other,” Daniel expresses. “ I think for a lot of people, my presence and my energy create positive motivation”

At Alumni/Wang, the community is smaller compared to the Zesiger Center which sees the majority of athletics activity and a more student-based population. Alumni/Wang’s regular rotation consists more often of community members, corporate partners, and MIT faculty and staff. For Daniel and Alejandro, this gives them the opportunity to offer a more tailored approach to the patrons they interact with on a daily basis.

Alejandro says he and his brother always look for a way to connect with patrons  “out of compassion [for] the community”

“We balance [each other],” says Alejandro. “We have a lot of communication, we help each other out … We are there for each other. It’s a real team effort.”

Beyond member services operations, Daniel also teaches swim lessons and classes, dedicating a significant amount of his time to MIT Recreation. When asked what he does with his time outside of work, he laughed, asking how he was supposed to answer that when he spends all of his time in and around MIT Rec.

“There is something about creating that habit,” Daniel says of the lessons he instructs. “Being part of the routine and part of someone else’s new experience makes it so rewarding.” One of Daniel’s students, Brooklyn, age 5 loves seeing Daniel during her weekend swim lessons. She makes sure to greet him with “hi Mr. Daniel!” before each lesson.

Outside of MIT Recreation, Alejandro enjoys photography and other communicative arts like radio and podcasting. He likes to photograph everything. Alejandro states “I like to take pictures of things that are not very obvious,” further explaining that things often overlooked are of the most interest to him. He also has aspirations of starting his own podcast.

As for Daniel, fitness is very much an important part of his life. In the coming year, he hopes to run the Boston Marathon and compete in his first triathlon in preparation for his ultimate goal of completing an Ironman.

The Alumni Pool and Wang Fitness Centeris open to all MIT Recreation members Monday through Friday 6 AM to 9 PM and is located at 32 Vassar Street, building 57 on campus.

-Maddy Jackson