AKAT honoree Moises Alvarez aims to make the most of his parents’ sacrifices
The son of Central American immigrants, Moises Alvarez grew up watching his parents work hard to build a new life and their small business, Santa Rosa Market.
“They’d be there at the store till 9 or 10 at night, all the time,” he said. “I know their goal has always been to make a better life for me and my brothers,” and their most powerful tool to achieve this goal was education.
After he attended the (now defunct) McDermott Elementary School, Alvarez’ parents enrolled him at Fellowship Baptist School in Liberal, a private Christian school where he flourished.
The next step?
“Obviously, Seward County Community College,” Alvarez said with a smile. “I was offered a Presidential Scholarship, so that created a very good option for me — the first two years of college, basically free, compared to thousands and thousands of dollars if I went to state university.”
“Obviously, Seward County Community College,” Alvarez said with a smile. “The Presidential Scholarship created a very good option for me — the first two years of college, basically free, compared to thousands of dollars if I went to state university.”
Moises Alvarez, Bridges Psychology student and AKAT scholar
Alvarez’ decision-making process was not entirely financial; his older brother, Emanuel, completed two years at SCCC before transferring to Kansas State University.
“I saw how successful this was for him,” he said. Like his sibling, Alvarez joined the Bridges program, which strategically prepares first-generation students for work in the sciences.
His ultimate goal is to earn doctorate-level credentials in the field of psychology.
“I hope to be a counselor or therapist, so I can help people who struggle with mental health issues,” he said. “That’s something I got interested in during my time at Seward. Katy Redd’s psychology course really caught my interest.”
Alvarez said the idea that biological factors can trigger mental health challenges was a revelation to him.
“Just knowing that things can go on in a person’s brain that are chemical or physical, and can’t really be helped with positive thinking or beliefs — that was a new concept,” he said. “I really want to help people.”
In Southwest Kansas, Alvarez said, the emphasis on religious traditions and a lack of mental health professionals often keeps people from seeking help.
“I have really enjoyed small town life — it’s great,” he said. “But I am looking forward to getting out to a bigger place.”
With the Bridges connection, that bigger place will likely be Kansas State University, where Alvarez hopes to conduct summer research before transferring in August.
The All Kansas Academic Team award he will receive in February as one of two SCCC nominees is a welcome affirmation.
“I didn’t really expect it,” he said. “I don’t consider myself an amazing student, I just try to do my best, and keep learning.”
Despite his modesty, Alvarez is an exemplary student, said SCCC Vice President of Student Services Celeste Donovan.
“As a Presidential Scholar, he is required to complete leadership training and participate in extracurricular and volunteer work, and Moises always steps up,” she said. “We’re very thankful for his involvement in so many campus activities.”
One of those groups, Phi Theta Kappa honor society, is the source of the AKAT award, and comes with scholarship opportunities and a network that extends to the work world.
“PTK is a great resource for our students, and we’re glad to see Moises taking part,” said the club sponsor, biology instructor Ty Hughbanks. “He’s been willing to recruit and speak to students in the community, and we’re excited to see him move on to K-State.”
His parents, too, are proud of his efforts.
“They’ll be coming to Topeka to see me receive the award,” Alvarez said. “It’s very exciting for our family.”