This week, we reached out to one of our first LVS classes in an effort to capture the experiences of scholars who have not just graduated from our program, but also from college! Nahiomy Alvarez was part of the LVS Class of 2012 and was a winner of the 2012 QuestBridge National College Match Program, which awarded her a full four-year scholarship to her match school, Williams College, in Williamstown, MA.
Year of LVS Graduation
Did you have any internships while in college?
My first internship in college was at a residential program for students with complex psychiatric, behavioral and/or developmental disorders at Hillcrest Education Center in Pittsfield, MA. Having the opportunity to work with children with tough upbringings was immensely meaningful and reinforced my belief in the importance of supporting vulnerable members of our communities.
What did you do after graduation?
Like many first-generation students I didn’t have a clear idea what I wanted to do after graduation – in part because the goal for years had been to get into college. Period. And so, for my first few years at Williams, I very intentionally considered all sorts of alternatives. Psychology? Hmm, I liked talking to and psychoanalyzing people. Law school? Why not, I liked arguing. A PhD? Sure, I loved school. A job in banking? Eh, could use the money.
Meanwhile, I was taking all these classes that inadvertently opened up my eyes to something I hadn’t really intentionally thought about all that much growing up. Even though I experienced it every day, I had never sat down to think and talk about America’s race and class issues. I suddenly had the privilege – the time and the resources – to sit down and learn about redlining, read The New Jim Crow, and write a capstone group thesis on mass incarceration and recidivism in the U.S. I thought, “Wow, I need to do something about this.” Eventually, my plan became to find a job where I could impact policy-making, find ways to bring more folks to the table, and infiltrate the boys club at the top – hence how I ended up looking for a job in D.C.
Where are you working now? What do you do?
After graduating last May (2016) I moved to D.C. for an Analyst position at a firm called Hamilton Place Strategies (HPS). HPS is a consulting firm founded on the idea that by providing a better understanding of issues we can influence and improve policy-making. My work consists of using a combination of analysis and communications to distill complex issues, explain these issues to target audiences, and persuade critical influencers. My day-to-day work involves working on all sorts of issues, including financial regulation, alternative energy, international development, early education, and tax policy.
What are some things you learned at La Vida Scholars that prepared you for college life, finances, and academics?
Writing. La Vida is where I wrote and refined my first real essays – which is insane. Writing all those essays, learning new SAT words, reading, etc., all that helped me develop the writing skills that I constantly need in my job and needed in college.
What are three words that come to mind when you think of La Vida Scholars?
Opportunity. Mentorship. Growth.
Anything you want to say to all the current La Vida Scholars?
I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to make use of ALL opportunities in front of you. Don’t waste those! Commit yourself to beating your best SAT score and then beat it. Commit yourself to writing the best possible scholarship essay and then write it. Commit yourself to learning something new every day and then learn it. I remember how non-urgent it seemed at the time, and fortunately it worked out, but time is money.