Graduation 2015: Dr. Jorge Alvarez High School

Here are some of the outstanding graduates of our Class of 2015.

Growing up introverted and shy was extremely challenging for Fernanda Ramos, who was from an exclusively Spanish-speaking household that kept moving back and forth between the East Coast and the Midwest. Despite these and more personal hardships, she is frequently named to the Honor Roll.

As a freshman, she quietly navigated events with her camera taking pictures for the school newspaper. After much persuasion, she was finally convinced to check out STEAM Box, which offers students experiential learning opportunities in science, technology, engineering, art and math. One of its goals is to engage more female students in science.

Fernanda made the most of the experience immediately. Over the past four years, this shy girl transformed into a decisive leader and innovator at STEAM Box. By her sophomore year, she designed a girls-only engineering club, creating a bio-dome. After that, she was ready for a greater challenge. She worked with a team to send a capsule to space, taking a picture of the Earth. Since then, she had STEAM Box internships with the Poder radio station, Telemundo television station, trained sea life in a partnership with the Mystic Aquarium, designed websites and produced special effects videos. She recently designed hovercrafts and aerial drones.

Fernanda has been described as “a role model student.” She will attend Rhode Island College next fall and has already reached out to the RIC STEM Director to continue her work in STEAM.

Francy Mata, who exemplifies the well-rounded student, has enjoyed numerous academic and extra-curricular accomplishments at Alvarez High School. At the beginning of his sophomore year, Francy transferred to Alvarez from LaSalle Academy, a private, nationally-recognized high school in Providence, so that his struggling younger sister could attend a private school.  The family did not have the financial means to pay for two children in private schools, and this voluntary decision epitomizes his personality and character.

At Alvarez, Francy has excelled. He is ranked 8th out of 125 students and has a 92.93 grade point average. He attends school every day, works extremely hard in class and gets along with all types of students. Francy is one of the only seniors to have enrolled in five Advanced Placement courses, one of the toughest schedules that Alvarez High School offers.

Because of his strong academic record and outgoing personality, Francy was selected as the school’s sole representative for the Hugh O’Brian Youth (HOBY) Leadership Award, a prestigious honor that recognizes the leadership ability of high school sophomores. Francy attended a three-day workshop with other HOBY participants and has truly taken HOBY’s core values to empower, lead and excel and utilized them in his daily life as a student-athlete.

In addition to his academic and leadership accomplishments, Francy is a three -sport varsity athlete and has been recognized at the state and national levels for his accomplishments. Although he is gifted athletically, he also has worked extremely hard on his own to improve his performance. In the fall, he is a linebacker on Mt. Pleasant High School’s football team; in the winter, he participates in indoor track; and in the spring, he is on the outdoor track team. Despite being such an elite athlete and academic superstar, Francy is extremely humble.

Francy has still found time to participate in a wide variety of extra-curricular activities to improve his academics and SAT scores, including the Verizon Mobile Learning Lab and Let’s Get Ready (LGR). LGR occurs in both the spring and fall. On days that he had LGR, he would leave Alvarez HS at 2:45, ride a bus to Mount Pleasant for practice or a game, then take two busses to get back to Alvarez for his LGR class, which began at 6:00 p.m. and lasted until 9:00 p.m. Last summer, he also participated in Providence’s College Promise program.

Francy will attend the College of the Holy Cross.

Nancy Urizar is a student that has overcome both academic and tremendous personal challenges. She is also an exceptional human being who seeks to impact the world as a social worker or nurse.

Nancy was removed from her home due to abuse and placed in the foster care system. Since then, she has roamed from home to home in search of happiness. Her family life has never been the ideal one. But she has never given up. She wants to become a social worker or nurse to help other kids like herself that have or are undergoing the same pain she experienced.

Nancy’s story, in her own words, tells of her painful childhood. “I never had a loving mother or a loving father to share moments and support me in things I wanted in life. I soon realized I was wasting time feeling sorry for myself and that I had to accept I was in foster care and move on. Overcoming my childhood is one of the toughest challenges I have had to face, but I knew I had to for my own good. If I wanted to become the adult I wish to be, I had to learn how to deal with what was on my plate.”

Academically, Nancy has shown tremendous growth from freshman year until now. Her life circumstances can explain what seems like lackluster performance, but as this situation has gotten better, her grades and overall attitude about school and life have improved as well. As evidenced by her junior year grades, Nancy earned all A’s and B’s in her classes. On many days it is commonplace to find Nancy seeking extra help. She understands her academic limitations and seeks to better them. She has an excellent knowledge of herself; this is one of the first steps if one is to be successful.

When she turns 18, for the first time in her life, she will not be in a foster home. Heading to college will be a chance to start anew and accomplish her goals. Many kids experience hardships and dwell on it; some even use their hardships to justify their shortcomings. Nancy is the opposite. She refuses to accept that her upbringing should define her or dictate the outcome of her life. Even with her own personal struggles, she still finds time to help others as a volunteer as a member of the advocacy board at the Department of Children, Youth and Families and was secretary of the Foster Committee. According to Nancy, the most meaningful activity she has done in her life is to become a volunteer because it gives her the opportunity to help others. This is the mark of someone who can change the world through their selflessness and perseverance.

She plans to attend Rhode Island College to become a social worker.