Evelyn Alvarez behind a tree

I Chose My Own Path

Evelyn Alvarez '22
Global Disease Biology

I Create My Own Path

I strive to realize my dream and to make my parents proud so that their sacrifices are not in vain. Both of my parents fled their countries to seek refuge from the civil wars in Central America. Seeing them never give up and persevere in the face of adversity motivates me to keep fighting. "The path is not straight, but the goal remains the same," is a phrase I repeat over and over. I am a first-generation college student who grew up in unfavorable circumstances in a neighborhood filled with violence. I can say that I am lucky to have made it out. My brothers and I were taught to try anything and everything at least once and encouraged to be lifelong learners. Because of this, I always loved going to school and used music as an outlet. I have a colorful background in music ranging from piano, flute, electric bass, and percussion.  

Through Adversity 

As soon as I started on my track to higher education, my family needed my assistance with their financial burdens. So I picked up 4 jobs while attending part-time at the community colleges in my area. During this trying time, I worked steadily toward my objectives and took every opportunity in my various jobs to learn valuable skills that would propel me to success. I realized very quickly that my success was significantly reliant on a strong support structure. 

There were many times that I had contemplated whether continuing to work multiple jobs and going to school was the life I wanted. Inadequacy in a university environment was my biggest hesitance; I realized that the traditional path to higher education was not feasible for me. As I explored the various avenues college has provided for me, I grew to accept the fact that I had to make my own path–being a first-generation college student means that I am in charge of my own destiny. I applied to UC Davis, my dream university. To my surprise, I was accepted. I then researched programs at UC Davis that would give me a sense of community to ensure my success while attending school. I found EOPS, TRiO SSS, CCLASS, NAASSC, and the Puente program. 

I have arrived

Upon my entrance to UC Davis, I felt overwhelmed with unknowns but quickly began to realize that, for the first time, my giving nature was acknowledged and reciprocated. I was shocked at how the students and faculty strive to be helpful in any way they can. I was invited to join the Aggie Jumpstart pilot program, where I met Lili Bynes, the academic advisor at the CAES Dean's Office. Lili helped find mental health resources, the Food Pantry on campus, and many other programs that would help me find my footing. The inclusivity of the environment has made me feel comfortable and has helped me combat imposter syndrome. 

One tip for success is to foster a relationship with all of your advisors. Your college and your major are separate advisory systems. Get familiar with the staff and be comfortable with asking many questions. There is no wrong question when you know so little about something. Not being afraid to try something new, as my parents taught me in my youth, is the crucial skill that continues to help me succeed. Having humility and staying humble has also helped me practice my tenacity in life and academics. I want to make an impact to inspire others to believe it is not too late to achieve your dreams. Everyone has their own path in life, and mine was never meant to be linear.

My Future

My long-term goal is to continue to be someone who speaks and acts with honesty and to leave an impression on others, encouraging them to realize that it is never too late to pursue their passions. In my major, Global Disease Biology, I am studying the aspects of One Health and what it means to have an inclusive body of policies that can help alleviate the burdens of social inequities within the healthcare system. I know I won’t eradicate Ebola in Africa or even find the cure for HIV, but I can help bring together a diverse group of people that can fight to level the injustices within low-income underserved communities. I want to represent those who have had their voices muffled under the pressures of inequity and bring awareness to the unstable foundation the healthcare system is teetering over.

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