Saint of SF | Ismelda Alvarez

Saint of SF | Ismelda Alvarez

Santa Fe College Ismelda Alvarez Pre-College Advisor for Campus Events & New Student Orientation Programs photographed for the Saints of Santa Fe College series on April 6, 2022 in Gainesville, FL. (Photo by Matt Stamey/Santa Fe College)

Growing up in a small agricultural town with only one caution light and a large population of farm workers, I watched many in the fields pick fruit and vegetables in harsh conditions. In addition, racism and discrimination were prevalent and many workers lived in fear. Seeing this firsthand, I became an advocate, striving to bring awareness about the lives of the migrant workers and their vital role in the agricultural industry.

Despite never having gone to college, my father always emphasized the power of education. I watched him work day after day to provide. I remember eating black beans, eggs and tortillas for months straight because that all we could afford. He stressed education was going to break the cycle of poverty – and he was right. I aim to give others the opportunity to overcome the same barriers I faced as a first-generation minority student.

This week Santa Fe College is hosting the first admissions event for Spanish-speaking students, presented by Spanish-speaking staff from across the college. When picking the name, we decided on Sigue Soñando because we can’t give up on our dreams. I hope that SF will become a college where people who identify as Hispanic or Latine will know they are welcomed and served. Serving under-represented students on campus motivates me. I enjoy advocating for them and reminding them college is possible. My father showed me what loving your culture and believing in yourself can do while emphasizing the importance of giving back. Anytime I visit home, I make it a goal to drive through my favorite dirt road that takes me to the tomato fields because it reminds me why I do what I do.

Life is beautiful – even during chaos and uncertainty – remember where your strength comes from. Be grateful, love well, and keep dreaming.

-Izy Alvarez, Pre-College Advisor for Campus Events & New Student Orientation Programs