Spend some time with Verenice Alvarez, and you’ll walk away feeling you should be doing a little bit more.
For most of her college career, Alvarez has been balancing work, internships, volunteering, student activities, classes and studying. She graduates in June with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.
Alvarez's parents immigrated to the United States in the late 1980s. Alvarez was born in California and her family moved to Central Oregon when she was eight.
It was a middle school teacher who inspired Alvarez to strive for academic excellence, shoot for A’s and set educational goals for herself. Alvarez graduated from Redmond High School with honors, and received a scholarship to attend COCC, where she dual-enrolled in OSU-Cascades.
She’s been a part of the Latino club, the student fee committee and this year she’s the Associated Students of Cascades Campus Secretary/Treasurer.
“Verenice is one of the only students I’ve seen get involved the first day of freshman year and has been involved ever since,” says Andrew Davis, Coordinator of Student Life.
She’s also volunteered as an Aspire mentor at Redmond High School, helping students navigate college applications, financial aid and more. She benefited from an Aspire mentor when she was in high school and is happy to give back.
Choosing business administration as her major was a natural for Alvarez. Working since 16, she managed payroll at her father’s business during high school, tapped into her entrepreneurial spirit as a Mary Kay consultant, honed her customer service skills in the restaurant business, and worked her way up from teller to customer service representative at Wells Fargo.
During her junior year at OSU-Cascades, she applied for an international internship and landed a summer gig in Madrid, Spain at Groupon, one of the world’s largest deal-of-the-day websites. She worked in the human resources department, shared a flat with seven other students and commuted by subway train every day.
“My internship helped me grow as a person,” says Alvarez. “Businesses are different in every culture and you have to learn how to adjust to a new way of doing things.”
Alvarez gained invaluable experience in both the administrative and the recruiting side of human resources. She reviewed resumes, assisted in interviews and learned about all the different aspects that make up an HR department.
“I enjoyed talking to new people, and matching up the right person with the right position.”
Alvarez returned to Bend this fall and is looking forward to graduating in June. “I’m the first generation for everything,” says Alvarez. “I’m setting the example for my younger siblings.”
At OSU-Cascades, Alvarez loves the community, small class size, and the personal relationships she’s developed with many of the faculty and staff.
“College gives you a new perspective,” says Alvarez. “There’s great value in a college education.”
What’s next for Alvarez after graduation? Inspired by a volunteer position with the Latino Community Center here in Bend where she helped community members with job postings, the road to citizenship, medical services, taxes, and much more – she’s considering bringing her business skills into the nonprofit leadership arena.
“I like to help. I’m looking forward to doing what I can for the community,” she says.