Born in Paterson and raised in Passaic, Clifton, and then Wayne, Christian Alvarado credits his mom, Belkis, with instilling in him strong values like respect for others, and “being a gentleman”. Left to raise her three children alone when Chris’s father walked out many years ago, his mom worked tirelessly to make sure Christian, now 18 and his siblings Krystal, 24 and Christopher, 15 were committed to developing their minds through reading, thinking and a quality education. “She’s my hero,” says Christian.
Christian’s Tri-County Freedom Scholarship award enabled him to attend DePaul Catholic High School in Wayne. There he found teachers that ignited his intellectual curiosity and classes that proved to be an excellent training ground for his artistic talents. Nicholas Lombardi, Christian’s art teacher, describes him as “one of the very, very few who is an excellent portrait artist, able to draw everything from dogs to people. He did an amazing portrait of his friends (see above). I was wowed and amazed by his abilities.” Likewise, Christian has deep respect for Lombardi, describing him as, “my art teacher, my mentor, and someone I look up to…he taught me how to be myself in every situation.”
Discovering new talents and abilities while at DePaul, Christian found great satisfaction in both academics and the arts. He was excited to express himself more fully and discover greater empathy for others through his involvement in theater. Recognition of academic excellence came via awards in Literature, History and Art, and membership into the National World Language Honors Society.
Awarded a generous scholarship to attend Drew University this coming Fall, Christian is excited about continuing to pursue studies in art and psychology. He expresses interest in exploring a career as an art therapist, calling his art, “a journey of the mind. It helps me discover how my mind works…and how others’ (minds) work as well.” He wants to combine these studies to help people “live a healthier life.”
Christian is grateful and excited to have the opportunities he’s had due to his Freedom Scholarship. “I certainly wouldn’t be here right now if not for Tri-County. I feel like great things are going to be happening. If Tri-County keeps giving kids a chance for an education, there is no limit.”