Alvarez part of Auburn University’s Tiger Excellence Scholars Program where participants thrive, become leaders
Not only are members of Auburn University’s Tiger Excellence Scholars Program, or TESP, enjoying their college experience on the Plains, they are thriving and evolving into leaders.
Nearly 300 students involved with the program—designed to support the persistence and retention of students from historically under-represented backgrounds, low-income families and first-generation college enrollees—posted a 3.42 cumulative grade-point average for the fall 2020 semester. Administered through Auburn’s Office of Inclusion and Diversity, or OID, in partnership with the Office of the Provost, the scholars program is developing the leaders of tomorrow through its efforts.
“I’m biased, but I think I have the best students on campus,” said Jasmine Prince, OID’s assistant director for Inclusive Excellence Initiatives
One of those students is senior public relations major April Alvarez. TESP helped offer a way for the Montgomery native to become the first person in her family to attend college.
“I didn’t even know if I was going to be able to make it to college,” Alvarez said. “Not only has [the scholarship] given me the opportunity to be here, but it’s given me so much more than that. There’s a community behind it, so I have these mentors I can lean on."
Alvarez is president of Students for Clean Water—an Auburn group that works with the Birmingham-based Neverthirst clean water ministry to provide water filters to Nepal and raise awareness for the global water crisis that plagues many nations. In addition, she is interning at Lee County Court Appointed Special Advocates, or CASA, and helping the association promote its efforts to aid abused and neglected children.
"I just remember when I got here and thinking, ‘Wow, my world is forever changed.’ I really saw everything from a whole new lens once I got to Auburn and realized I can do well and get this degree, but also have all this knowledge of how to be successful in the professional world.”
Alvarez also serves as one of the TESP Resource Consultants, the program’s student team that is responsible for leading community night experiences and facilitating success seminars. The professional skills and leadership experience Alvarez has gained during her four years in the TESP program, she says, have been invaluable.
The TESP model is focused on the holistic development of all scholars through intentional engagement, support resources and community building. In addition to financial support, TESP students also are given access to academic help, mentors, success seminars and various other university resources.
“I definitely feel like I’ve gotten a lot out of it and have grown as a person,” said Alvarez, who will graduate in May. “Looking back, I just never would have thought of myself to be in this position of earning a degree and developing so much professionally. I didn’t even know what a cover letter was when I got to Auburn. I think having the access to all kinds of information like that has really made a difference for me and made me into more of a well-rounded person.”
No matter where her career path leads, Alvarez will take with her experiences and memories that would not have been possible without TESP.
“I’ve gotten much more than just a degree, and I feel a lot more confident as a person and in my abilities,” said Alvarez, who would love to work for Delta Air Lines or in the nonprofit or health care sectors after graduating. “I’ve gotten a lot of experience and learned a lot about myself in the process.”