Alvarez hears the world in a new way

MINOT, N.D. – Kathleen Alvarez, a sophomore here at Minot State University, was born in the Philippines and moved to Hawaii when she was seven years old.

Her father, Edgar Alvarez, believed there would be better prospects for his family to thrive in the United States. 

“The reason we moved in the beginning was my dad's job, but us living here was to live the American dream,” said Alvarez. “My dad always reminded us that we did not have any family here, and he also always reminded us why we are here: the opportunities. He wants us to do well.”

Alvarez is pursuing a communication sciences and disorders major. However, when she came to MSU, that was not always her plan.

“Originally, I was a computer science major. I enjoyed computer science; it was everything I did in high school. Then I came here and lost passion for it, and I spent a lot of winter break thinking about what I was going to do,” she said. “During this time, I met a deaf audiologist and just being able to talk to her and listen to her own experiences. A couple of days later, I changed my major.

“If she could be a doctor, I could be a doctor. Just because I’m hard of hearing, I did not think I could be a doctor.”

Her switch to audiology is helping her understand her own hearing loss.

“About three years ago, I was diagnosed with moderate to severe hearing loss,” said Alvarez. “At my six-month appointment, I had a talk with my audiologist, and I told her ‘I do not know what I am doing’ in terms of a career, or what pathway I should follow.”

That life-changing visit has Alvarez looking forward to the opportunities that arise as she pursues her passion. Alvarez has already found her favorite class, introduction to audiology, giving her key insight and medical background into her own hearing loss. To help her form a more well-rounded education with the thought of eventually earning a doctorate in audiology, she took — and enjoyed — a leadership class from MSU professor (and Looyenga Leadership Center director) James Sturm. 

“After I graduate here, I plan to do four more years of school to get my doctorate in audiology,” stated Alvarez. “Having my parents push me to always do my best drove me to always want to do better in school and sports.”

Alvarez looks forward to her next year at MSU.

“I love how close the buildings are, it creates a great community. I also love all the friends I have made here,” she said. “My friends, family, and parents have all really helped me get to where I am and know where I want to go.”

As for changing majors so early in her academic career, Alvarez hopes other students keep an open mind and pay attention to opportunities as they arise.

“My biggest advice would be that do not think that your life is going to end when something goes wrong,” Alvarez said. “You are learning so much about yourself, but you need to balance school and social life and whatever you want to do. You still need to enjoy it.”

About Minot State University
Minot State University is a public university dedicated to excellence in education, scholarship, and community engagement achieved through rigorous academic experiences, active learning environments, commitment to public service, and a vibrant campus life.

Published: 02/15/24   

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