October 14, 2022

Jennifer Alvarez

School Counseling ’23

Jennifer Alvarez knows just how important representation is in learning environments and believes that her degree will allow her to address the need for more counselors of color within K–12.

Jennifer Alvarez Jennifer Alvarez, School Counseling ’23, has a passion for social justice in education. She believes that her degree will allow her to address the need for more counselors of color within K–12. She knows just how important representation is in learning environments, and she hopes that the identities that she brings to her work act as actions designed to disrupt the status quo and make structural disparities for students visible.

“As a person of color who has experienced many obstacles in life, I am able to shed some light on things that our students of color face every day … I see the effort that is being made on behalf of the graduate school. Implementing such subjects within the program shines a light on topics that would otherwise be disregarded or not spoken about within education and society.”

Lewis & Clark’s curriculum immediately demonstrated to Alvarez its commitment to diversity and inclusion, so she challenged herself by joining a learning environment engaged in the practice of leadership as a collective discourse. The school counseling program is providing her with the skills she needs to reach out to students who are marginalized. Alvarez plans to use these skills and incorporate social justice in her work going forward.

“Social justice has always been important to me, and I plan to continue my fight for equity. I will be an advocate for all students and will be a voice for those seeking to be heard. I will strive to reduce systemic barriers and help students receive the support and guidance they need to be successful.”

This work is not easy, but Alvarez couldn’t be more grateful for the “welcoming” and “comfortable” environment that L&C’s campus has given her. Her sense of belonging is mostly thanks to her peers and professors. The cohort model has made her feel increasingly connected to everyone in her classes.

“I have an amazing relationship with some of the core faculty of the school counseling program. Professors Heather Hadraba and Rafe McCullough have been very supportive. They have both been there for me when I needed someone to talk to and when I needed guidance. I’m very fortunate to have the opportunity to learn from them.”

Finding the balance between her academic, professional, and personal lives has been an important aspect of Alvarez’s experience. Luckily, she has felt like her community has stood by her every step of the way.

“I am a full-time student, a full-time employee, and a full-time mother of two. Time management is definitely crucial, but having a support team that helps me and keeps me going is everything.”

Alvarez offers some advice to future graduate students: “Be proud of who you are and what you have accomplished. You are and have always been extraordinary.”

Alvarez hopes that future graduate students can stay true to themselves and acknowledge their strengths as they continue their educational journey. However, she does hope that they are aware of the challenge that the school counseling profession will be for those that find themselves on this path.

“Education is not an easy field to be in, but if you are passionate about making a difference in young lives and want to see others succeed, then school counseling is for you.”