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Meet Miguel Alvarez

Miguel Alvarez
Associate Director of Admission
Carnegie Mellon University (PA)

 How did you get your start in the admission field? 
I knew I wanted to work in a space where I was interacting with people but could also have an impact on equity for underserved communities. I was working in the financial industry immediately after college and also serving in the Army Reserve when someone reached out to me from Carnegie Mellon University about an opportunity to work in admission. I had experience with customer service and nonprofit industries through jobs or internships, and after hearing that the role would combine admission with an access focus for recruiting and enrolling minoritized populations, I felt that I couldn’t have lucked out with a better fit.

What is your favorite part of the job?
The implications of the decisions and policies admission professionals make can have ripple effects on the success of an institution, the economic mobility of a local community or region, and/or decide who will be among future leaders of our nation. My favorite part of the job is knowing that helping one family or student navigate the admission and financial aid process can have a huge impact. I take this idea into building our recruitment and outreach process, ensuring our admission operation is inclusive and breaks down barriers in the understanding of financial aid.  It helps me feel like there is real value behind the work that we’re doing in higher education institutions across the country.

How has NACAC played a role in your career?
This past year, I presented at NACAC for the first time. Although presenting is an invaluable experience, I felt that what I really took away were the connections with my co-presenters. NACAC has provided me with a network of support with professionals that encounter and overcome many of the same challenges I deal with every day. Having access to these mentors and leaders makes me feel more motivated about the work we do in admission and navigating these challenges is essential for staying in the field and achieving professional growth. As I progressed from an assistant director to associate director, I’ve found myself really being open to new ideas and guidance from those I’ve met at NACAC.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing our profession today?
I think messaging about higher education is becoming more polarized. As costs and student debt increase, many families are doubting the return on investment of higher education. This divide is especially impacting those with less resources and knowledge to navigate the barriers of the admission and financial aid process.

When you aren’t working, what do you like to do?
I really love soccer! I spend much of my time off watching or playing soccer. Outside of that, I enjoy going on long runs, traveling, dining out with my wife, and going on walks to explore different areas of the city with my dog. 

If you could be any fictional character, who would it be and why?
Jason Bourne. I loved the movies growing up and I always felt like the guy did a ton of travelling.

Describe yourself in five words.
Kind, patient, dedicated, helpful, and thoughtful.

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