Marcus Alvarez ’17

Hometown: Irving, TX
Major: science, technology, and society

What is/was your favorite class?

Sign Language! My teacher is awesome, the Teacher Assistant is incredible at organizing everything, and the class is always interactive with each other. Apart from learning cool signs and the unique ASL sentence-making structure, we have really learned about the beauty and richness of Deaf culture by doing mini-papers on famous Deaf people and projects where we pretend to be Deaf in public in order to determine whether or not we are perceived differently by society. Definitely take this class—even if it's for one quarter. You won't regret it!

What is your favorite in-between class activity?

Going to lunch at different places with my friends. Whether I am at Casa Zapata, my house, Arrillaga, or all the way at Ujamaa, it's a nice time to hang out with my buddies and talk about their lives. Stanford people are truly amazing, I must say. One of my friends used to host a radio show with over 1,000 listeners, another friend started his own company, and another friend flew over here all the way from Tanzania. I recommend dining with friends as often as possible. It's a great break from classes.

What are your two favorite extra-curricular activities?

FLIP (First Generation, Low Income Partnership) and Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity. I really value FLIP's mission in creating a safe and conversational space for not only those who identity as first generation or low income but also those who identify with FLIP's goals in helping create a community that transcends all barriers in regards to class and level of education. My second favorite extra-curricular activity is Phi Psi because of our strong brotherhood and connection with community service. I grew up with three sisters, so having a group of fellows I can rely on for anything is an invaluable thing to have. Phi Psi's level of volunteerism and delicious food is another plus.

Top five things about / top five things to do at Stanford

(in no specific order)

  1. Our "slang" words such as MemChu and CoHo
  2. Hiking the Dish
  3. Hanging out with friends during random nights at "Lake" Lag
  4. The Hume Writing Center (I have no idea how I would have finished my 20-page paper otherwise)
  5. Going to Frost Amphitheater for the first time during Admit Weekend.

What’s the biggest “expectation-exceeder” of your Stanford experience?

Landing a summer internship at a non-profit magazine in Argentina right after freshman year. I still remember riding the plane to Buenos Aires feeling so blessed and humbled to attend a university as remarkable as Stanford. An international experience is something no one should ever overlook. I thank the Monica Miller Walsh Grant donors, my teachers, my mentors, my family, and everybody for helping me be where I am today.

Describe the moment you were admitted to Stanford. What were you doing? How did you feel? What was the first thing you did right afterward? Who was the first person you shared the news with?

It was a Friday in April 2012. I remember having avoided my email the entire day because Stanford was the school I was most interested in hearing back from. After school ended that day, my best friend and I drove to a nearby Starbucks. We brought our laptops, walked slowly to an empty table and laughed at how dramatic we were making the whole scene. When I finally signed into Gmail and read the first line of the acceptance e-mail, I started hyperventilating like crazy! People probably thought I was going to fall out of my chair! But I was just so content with life because I knew instantly where I was going to spend the next four years of my life. All my hard work had paid off, and as a first-generation low-income student on top of being an older brother to three younger sisters living in a single-parent household, I had never felt more grateful. After Starbucks, I drove back home and told my mom, "Hey, guess what? I got into Stanford." We both hugged each other for a solid minute. I felt like the luckiest kid in the world. Later that night, I took my best friend out to dinner at IHOP where we talked about how we were growing up so fast, how we became friends in the first place and how we made a promise to always stay besties. Going to bed that night was an incredible experience, because it was the first time I said to myself, "If I die right now, I'll be okay. Life couldn't get any better than this." And it hasn't.

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