Efrain Alvarado is a senior at IUPUI with a double major in journalism with a concentration in public relations and communications studies. He has been a part of DEAP from very early on and was one of the first members to become a peer mentor, a leadership role he held for two years. Alvarado says the value of the program was evident from the beginning of his freshman year when he first came to campus from Hammond, Indiana, and participated in DEAP's Summer Bridge sector.
Alvarado says, "Many students of color are first generation. We don't have family members who know about the process of going to college. DEAP helps make up for that by giving us a support system that can answer our questions and concerns. You learn about scholarships, budgeting, time management and if the staff isn't able to answer your question, they are always eager to connect you with someone who can."
We all come from different walks of life, but we have the same support system with DEAP. It has definitely become my family on this campus.Efrain Alvarado
Alvarado also stresses the benefit of connecting with fellow members of the diverse DEAP community, which fosters education and acceptance of other differing cultures. He says, "You have real conversations with people of different opinions, ideologies, and backgrounds. I've had the opportunity to connect with people when at first it seemed we had nothing in common. It's a unique environment that's taught me how to interact with people who are different from myself, whether it is cultural or even little personality differences. Because of DEAP, I have the communication skills to hold a well-meaning, respectful conversation with anyone I meet."
Gaining skills like those has helped Alvarado develop greater confidence and become a leader, both academically and socially. He spent a year as the president of DEAP's honor society, Chi Alpha Epsilon, and is now on track to attend law school in the fall of 2018. As he puts it, "Not all of us have a supportive family back home, but having people on campus who are cheering for you, it means a lot. We all come from different walks of life but we have the same support system with DEAP. It has definitely become my family on this campus."