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Cristopher Alvarado

High School: North Carolina School of Science and Math 

Intended Major:  Biology

Possible Career: Biomedical Engineer 

Words: Well-rounded, reflective, optimistic 

What impact do you want to have on the world?

 As someone who identifies as an underrepresented minority in STEM, I want to continue to do my best to not only serve as a role model for future generations of Latinx students that choose to pursue a career in these fields but to also help improve the public education policies within communities that stymie the potential of students in the same shoes as mine. I hope that I’m continuously able to engage with students that need the resources and motivation to pursue college, whether that be through continuous mentorship or through advocacy of the programs (Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, Questbridge) that I believe put me in the position I’m in today. 

Name a person you admire.

One of the people I admire most is my mom. The love she has instilled in me even as I’ve moved hundreds of miles away to pursue a better education has been never-ending. Despite the endless barrage of negativity in the media and the abundance of seemingly unfixable social issues that plague my communities, my mom seems to always be overflowing with positive energy and absolute happiness. She’s always made me feel like my ambitious tendencies have served a purpose, and it’s an unbelievable joy to see her thrive through me and all the experiences that have made me grow into the young man she pours her heart into. I’ve made it a life standard to be as joyful and caring as her, no matter where my career and life prospects take me. 

What is something you are proud of in your life so far?

 I’m most proud of how I have taken advantage of so many opportunities that have been far outside my comfort zone. As a JKCF Young Scholar, not only have I been able to travel the world to places I would have thought unimaginable a couple of years ago (Japan and Antarctica), but I’ve been able to stimulate my curiosity artistically through photography and music production and to consistently think boldly. Although I’ve since learned to ground myself through the failures I’ve had along the way, these experiences have undeniably been quintessential in helping me grow out of my introverted shell and to push away doubts of what I can achieve for myself and the people I care about. 

What have been the most valuable Evans Scholars program experiences for you?

The trip I took to Latin America this summer was by far one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. I initially planned to travel to Mexico by myself to visit my family for a couple weeks while completing some informal observations of the differing education systems that exist in the urban and rural environments I was staying at. However, seeing that I had over-budgeted, I took advantage of the remaining funds to individually plan a week-long trip to Peru to visit Machu Picchu. Not only was I able to revisit my roots, but I was able to organize an adventure on my own and dive headfirst into a culture unique from my own. 

What was the most transformative class you have taken and/or what subjects do you want to explore deeply?

Cruzando fronteras: migración y transnacionalismo en el cine mexicano and Neurobiology were both transformative classes in distinct ways. The former was an identity-affirming class that made me appreciate the value of film as a key component of my heritage in both local and global cinema while also giving me space to critically analyze some of the more problematic aspects of “golden-age” stereotypes and how they’ve been addressed since then. Meanwhile, the latter has given me an opportunity to really thrive and is the first science class at Swarthmore that I’ve been overwhelming excited for every class. It has re-sparked a drive to continue pursuing a field of study that is naturally more difficult for me to conceptually grasp and has made the up-hill battle worthwhile.