EastBay Today

Posted May 13, 2020

The Result of Resiliency

Cal State East Bay graduate pushed himself toward success in, out of classroom

Growing up in East Oakland, Daniel Alvarado often felt responsible for his own education.  

His high school was underfunded, and drive-by shootings sometimes put the school in lockdown for hours. 

While at Cal State East Bay, Daniel Alvarado co-started Thrive, a club dedicated to positive psychology principles.
Courtesy of Daniel Alvarado

Now, years later, after starting and stopping, remedial classes in math and English, community college, and finally back to Cal State East Bay, Alvarado is graduating, with a bachelor’s degree in hand. 

“It was a really tough journey for me,” he said. “Resiliency was key in order to achieve my educational goals, and my community growing up helped build that resiliency.” 

Alvarado said he was initially attracted to Cal State East Bay because of the class sizes. He’d visited other universities in the Bay Area, but after observing a class of nearly 500 students at a nearby UC campus, he knew he belonged in Hayward. Plus, as a first-generation student, it was also important that he was at a school with students from similar backgrounds, and faculty and staff who could help him navigate the college environment. 

“The diversity that the campus had as well [was important for me],” the 23-year-old Mexican-American said. “It was well representative of different demographics, different perspectives — from students and faculty — it was a world-class view of how business worked.” 

As a young person, and the only child of Mexican immigrants, Alvarado said he learned to do a lot of things on his own. He was often called on to help his family navigate life in the U.S. He’d read legal contracts or translate credit card statements. But that experience molded him into a natural leader, both in the classroom and out. 

In 2018, Alvarado co-started Thrive, a club on campus dedicated to positive psychology principles, i.e., how to stay positive in life. 

The group would host random acts of kindness day where they’d pay for people’s parking or hand out pizza and teach students about positive psychology and affirmations. 

“I enjoyed working together with people from different disciplines,” Alvarado said. “And it helped me learn how to communicate with people who are different than me and how to make decisions.” 

In recent years, Alvarado has also found ways to give back to the community that so significantly shaped him. He regularly volunteers with an Oakland-based nonprofit called Hack the Hood, teaching  tech skills to low-income youth of color. 

He used that experience to secure an internship with San Rafael-based software company Autodesk, where he currently interns as a community engagement specialist. 

And while he’s disappointed his parents will have to wait to see him cross the stage, Alvarado said he knows they’re proud. 

“They weren’t able to go to college, but now their son is graduating,” he said.

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