In celebration of Latinx Heritage Month and Hispanic Heritage Month, Gloria Alvarez ’05 reflects how the Mount community helped to grow her pride in her heritage and shape her career goals.
Alvarez currently works as director of career services at the Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF), an organization that empowers Latino families with the knowledge and resources needed to successfully complete a higher education and provides scholarships and support services to as many exceptional Hispanic American students as possible. In her role, she provides professional development guidance to HSF scholars and alumni and works closely with corporate partners to develop recruitment strategies.
She always knew that she wanted to help people and have a greater impact in something she could relate to. As a first-generation American Latina herself, Alvarez identifies with HSF’s mission and she enjoys the opportunity to achieve personal fulfillment and give back to the community.
Born and raised in Guatemala, she moved with her family to Los Angeles at the age of nine, after her father passed away. She says her mother was determined to see her and her two brothers receive a college education, though they initially lacked resources and knowledge about what it would take to get there. Her mother’s determination paid off and Alvarez graduated from Mount Saint Mary’s with bachelor’s degrees in business administration and Spanish.
“As a student at the Mount, I never had doubts about who I was or if I belonged there. The University provides a supportive and family environment and, even though it is a melting pot of people from different backgrounds, you never feel like an outsider,” she says. “Being part of a small community where women support and encourage each other to be the best version of themselves is very empowering.”
As a young Latina immigrant, Alvarez explains that she always felt that she needed to work harder to prove her value and show what she can bring to the table. “When there is any sort of disadvantage, I always take it as a challenge,” she says. “The fact that I am bilingual and I can bring my cultural background to my work is actually a huge advantage.”
Thinking back on her own journey, she urges students, and especially young Latinas, to “trust their potential, get out of their comfort zones, and don’t be afraid of rejection.” Additionally, she says, “It is okay to be selfish at times and take care of ourselves. We need to learn how to put our oxygen mask on first if we want to help others.”