Graduate Profile: Cam Alvarez '19
As far back as he can remember, Cam Alvarez thought college would be in his future.
"It was just something I always said as a kid, and my parents would tell me they were going to make that happen."
On May 11, Cam will graduate from St. Ambrose University, and become the first person in his family to earn a college degree.
"My parents have always been supportive, they wouldn't want it any other way," he said. "They fought hard to keep me in college and make this experience happen for me."
Together the family learned about FAFSA, loans and other information, and had long talks making a plan for Cam.
"I honestly would not be here without them," he said.
While looking at options for colleges, Cam knew two things: he wanted to play soccer, and he wanted to be far enough away from his town of Peoria, Ill. to be able to feel some independence and get the full college experience.
Cam heard about SAU at a college fair, and visited campus and met with men's soccer coach Jon Mannall.
"Visiting a college practice when I was in high school was a dream come true," Cam said.
After his visit, Cam was offered a spot on the soccer team, and was sold on St. Ambrose.
Once Cam started at SAU, he was asked him if he would be interested in joining the cheer team. He had never cheered before, but decided to give it a try. By the end of sophomore year, Cam decided to leave the soccer team and cheered all four years of college.
"The cheer team has been like a family to me," he said. "Now I can't imagine coming here and not cheering."
Cam also witnessed the program grow in the past four years.
"Seeing the program develop has been such a cool experience," he said. "And being part of the transition from practicing at the old gym at St. Vincent's to now practicing in the new Wellness and Recreation Center."
Besides athletics, Cam was also involved in student government. This year, he was elected Vice President, a new role that came with a lot of responsibilities he was ready to tackle.
"I got to attend meeting with Sister Joan once a month, and learned a lot of leadership skills through her," he said. "Going to board meetings was a unique experience not a lot of students have, which I am humbled by and proud of. Learning to interact with all different types of people is one of the biggest things I have learned here."
Cam has also been involved in Dance Marathon.
"Dance Marathon has been a blessing, getting to meet the kids and their families," he said. "The people involved in Dance Marathon are so passionate about it, and it's cool to be around that atmosphere, and it just adds to the overall Ambrose experience."
That drive to advocate for people who need help is also a reason Cam chose to major in nursing.
"I knew I wanted to be in the healthcare field," he said. "After researching how broad the nursing field is, I knew I could get a degree and a job in four years, and then continue my education later on to become a nurse practitioner. The flexibility you have with a nursing degree is what sold me."
Cam said the nursing faculty treated his and his fellow classmates like they were colleagues.
"They help you with career paths and career advice, and treat you like you are on the same level as them," he said.
Balancing classes, athletics and extracurricular activities was challenging, but for Cam it helped sharpen his time management skills.
"To be honest, having all these extra things made school easier, because I didn't have as much time to procrastinate," he said. "I knew I had practice at this time, so I had these two hours to study, so I had to study in that time. It kept me in shape and on track, I'm definitely grateful."
Outside of class, Cam said he has made friends for life here at SAU.
"A person that lived across the hall and was a stranger literally becomes your best friend and you can't imagine life without them," he said. "Those little every day interactions are the things you remember the most."
After graduation on May 11, Cam will be heading back to Peoria to work as an ER nurse at St. Francis Medical Center.
"That is the only department I've ever wanted to work in, and my dream hospital to work at," he said.