Hometown: Paulding County, Ga.
Class of 2015
Why I chose to come to Armstrong: When I came for the Pirate Preview open house, I felt welcomed here. All the faculty and staff were really nice. It was very different from previews I had been to at other schools. Everybody here seemed so caring. I also liked the campus and where it’s located. It’s away from home, but not too far away.
Desire and Determination
“I’ve never had anyone tell me what I should be doing to get ahead,” says Claudia Alvarado, an Armstrong Atlantic State University incoming freshman. Originally from Peru, Alvarado’s parents could not speak English and were largely unaware of how to guide Alvarado to the path of higher education. But this has not handicapped her in any way. With the desire and determination to succeed, Alvarado has paved her own way to fulfilling her dreams.
This biology and pre-med major has relied on a strong sense of independence to get her through the overwhelming processes of applying to college, financial aid, and scholarships. “I like to find things out for myself. I’ve always had to be really independent,” Alvarado said.
After choosing to take more science courses than were required, performing over 150 hours of volunteer work, and participating in multiple clubs at her high school, she was accepted to several big name colleges, including Mercer University and Oglethorpe University.
Yet Alvarado chose to call Armstrong home because of its welcoming atmosphere and academic opportunities. She is now partaking in the Science and Technology Expansion Program (STEP), where she works as a laboratory assistant. “I’m in the lab 40 hours a week, and I love the lab. It’s really fun being in there and doing different things,” Alvarado said. For the duration of the six-week program, she is paid a weekly stipend and lives on campus free of charge.
In conducting molecular biology research with Dr. Traci Ness, assistant professor of biology, Alvarado is analyzing how pathogens affect cells, specifically how yeast cell wall material reacts with receptors on mouth cells. “Having a better understanding of how cells work is just a really good thing to know. Fungal infections caused by yeast have affected a lot of people, because you can actually get yeast infections in your mouth. By knowing how the receptors on mouth cells work, maybe we can help to prevent some of those infections,” Alvarado said.
She plans on continuing her research next summer as an undergraduate research assistant with the STEP program. Alvarado is also part of the honors program, and she plans to join Armstrong’s student government association, become an Armstrong Ambassador, and act as a peer financial counselor in the financial aid office.
Alvarado, who is also a certified nurse assistant, would like to go to medical school and eventually become a family practitioner. “I feel like I am going to be able to help more people than if I specialize,” Alvarado said. Her dream is to take her practice back to Peru.