Alvaro Munoz ’24 is an educational-studies major and L.A. native who’s giving back to his college community as an ACE Peer Mentor, MANdatory co-leader, student-advisor and residential advisor. Below, he reflects on some of the daunting challenges faced by students from low-income communities—and on his desire to help effect positive change in the world as an educator. This summer, he worked at a nonprofit organization in L.A. that provides enrichment programming—and inspiration and support—to economically challenged students.
Los Angeles, California.
Residential Advisor, ACE Peer Mentor program (peer mentor), MANdatory (co-leader), Sigma Lambda Beta International Fraternity (chapter president), Popel Shaw Center for Race & Ethnicity Student Advising Board (member) and Kappa Delta Pi.
Building Block Award.
Best thing about my Dickinson experience:
The low student-to-faculty ratio is one of the greatest aspects of Dickinson. Faculty always go out of their way to assist you in any way they can. And that assistance does not necessarily have to come in the form of academic assistance; I've had professors simply listen to me vent about my personal life and the challenges I was having. It's comforting to know that the Dickinson faculty members are truly committed to your success.
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini and Broken by William Cope Moyers.
Best thing about my major:
The whole education department is amazing! The people in the department understand what it is like to be a student. The education department designs the curriculum around the students, and it shows. The faculty are amazing people and amazing educators.
On choosing Dickinson:
I chose Dickinson because of the financial aid! I knew I did not want to come out of college in debt, and Dickinson has 100% made that possible for me. I also heard about the amazing study abroad programs that they offered, which interested me a lot more.
Favorite places on campus:
LatinX House, the HUB and the Waidner-Spahr Library.
My favorite classes so far are Poetry and Fiction and Curriculum Theory. I enjoyed these classes because I was able to talk about my experiences and write about them, either in a poem or in a formal paper.
Favorite off-campus spots:
Redd's Smokehouse, North Hanover Grille and Taiwan Thai Restaurant.
On studying abroad:
In fall 2022 I will be studying abroad in Denmark! I chose Denmark because it will check off a requirement for my major. I have heard nothing but amazing things about the program, and I am excited to visit the city of Copenhagen.
If I could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, it would be …
… Kobe Bryant or J. Cole.
About my summer job:
This summer, I worked for LA'S BEST, which provides enrichment activities for children through after-school and summer programs.
About my research:
For my Introduction to Educational Research class, I completed a literature review. My key question was: "What problems do high school pupils in low-income neighborhoods face?" I picked this wide issue because, aside from financial insecurity, low-income students encounter a variety of challenges. And I understand how crucial it is for others to understand what we face on a daily basis. Throughout my studies, I understood that the challenges we experience are not our responsibility; although we may believe that these challenges are caused by ourselves and our activities, they are not. We've been in a neighborhood where success is extremely unusual, though not impossible. And low-income communities have a tendency to shine a spotlight on the "failures" of the communities, giving these kids in low-income communities less hope to make it out.
Advice for younger students:
Do not be a visitor on this campus; be an owner. You all pay to come to this institution, so own it! Own your presence on campus and do not be afraid to hold others accountable.
As a kid, I wanted to be …
… an astronaut.
I plan to earn a master’s degree. One of my goals is to become a U.S. history teacher, but I also would like to become a principal or assistant principal of a high school.
Most important thing I’ve learned so far:
Live for yourself. Once you do that, true happiness will arise.
Read more Student Snapshots.
Published September 20, 2022