ISU’s Latin American and Latino Studies would like to congratulate Cyndy Alvarez for her recent Emerging Leadership Award at the 2017 ILACHE (Illinois Latino Council on Higher Education) 25th conference which took place at Northeastern Illinois University last month (April 21, 2017). The Emerging Leadership award is presented to a student who has demonstrated exemplary leadership and service in the areas of education and social justice while promoting the advancement of the Latinx community.
Alvarez was born and raised in Dallas, Texas, and her family is originally from San Luis Potosi, Mexico. She completed her bachelor’s degree in psychology from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas in 2013; while at St. Mary’s University, she was a McNair Scholar, a program that prepares first-generation undergraduate students for doctoral studies through involvement in research and scholarly activities.
Currently, Alvarez is a fourth-year doctoral student in the School Psychology Program at Illinois State University. When she is not taking graduate classes, Alvarez is providing individual or group therapy among Latinx youth in schools. In her spare time, Alvarez enjoys spending time with her family, loved ones, as well as reading to foster her critical Chicana identity and consciousness.
As a woman of color, Alvarez has worked for more structural supports at Illinois State University for underrepresented students. Alvarez has observed a lack of awareness at ISU about students affected either through their own or their family’s immigration status. As a result, Alvarez has aimed to develop awareness as well as a community of students who care about immigration policies and educational inequities. Alvarez also organized a letter campaign demanding ISU’s administration to provide legal support to undocumented students and students with undocumented family members.
Alvarez’s voice has always been strong and direct in speaking truth to power. She has spoken up when it would have been easier to be silent. She is a trailblazing leader with a fiery spirit guided by her mother’s wisdom. Alvarez’s goal is to become a faculty member at a Hispanic serving institution, and train a new generation of school psychologists to develop a critical social justice consciousness to provide culturally responsive practices among the Latinx communities.
Alvarez’s leadership skills have been fostered by programs such as Power to the People, which is sponsored by Diversity Advocacy and Dr. Renee Watson, and facilitated by faculty members Pamela Hoff and Beth Hatt. She is committed to unlearn and relearn to continue advocating for herself as well as her Latinx community.