Sunday, July 21, 2024

Cardinal Watch: Alvarado applies research to herself, others

By Alana Penny

Lily Alvarado, a senior double major in English literature and gender and women’s studies and minor in professional writing, hopes to attend graduate school, after she graduates next semester, for library and information science.

“I really want to be an academic librarian when I grow up,” Alvarado said.

She has worked in Feinberg Library since fall 2018, when she started as an assistant, but was promoted her second semester, to associate. Alvarado also became a community assistant in Mason Hall this semester.

In her free time, she enjoys doing yoga.

“I like to do it once a day from my dorm. I’ll watch a youtube video and follow the routine from there,” Alvarado said.

Her favorite yoga videos are made by an account called, “Yoga with Adriene.”

She also likes to read for pleasure. She usually can only do this on winter and summer breaks because she doesn’t have time during the semester with all the required reading for her classes. Her favorite author is Haruki Murakami, the author of books like The “Wind-Up Bird Chronicle” and “Kafka by the Shore.”

“He writes a lot of fantastic realism, a mix of reality and fantasy,” Alvarado said. “He incorporates a lot of philosophy into his literature and I just think he’s super cool.”

Her greatest inspiration is her mom.

“I know that’s super cheesy and overused, but it’s true,” Alvarado said. “She’s the one who raised me, gave birth to me, took care of me and supported my dreams no matter what. She sacrificed so much so I can have a bright future, so that makes me appreciative, down to earth and makes me realize all the privileges I have and what I can do to make the world better.”

Paola Alba, a junior triple majoring in business administration, international business and supply chain management with a minor in Spanish, has been Alvarado’s best friend since their freshman year.

Alba said Alvarado can be a little shy when she first meets people but once she gets to know them she opens up.

“I think my biggest challenge is that I tend to have imposter syndrome so I constantly doubt myself. I overthink a lot – I tend to think of the worst case scenario,” Alvarado said. “Definitely my biggest challenge is myself and it’s a continuous journey of overcoming that.”

Alba said when they hang out, she and Alvarado like to do things that help each other’s growth. When the weather is warm they go hiking, kayaking or something else outdoors. When it’s snowy, they hang out in their dorms, chat, have small gatherings with friends, and make vision boards.

“The way I would describe Lily is she is a very passionate person,” Alba said. “She will tell you everything she loves and all the details about it.”

Alba said one of Alvarado’s greatest strengths is that she is great at managing her time.

“Whenever she has to do something she will get it done,” Alba said.

Last spring, Alvarado did an independent research project on the history of Puerto Rican women.

“I wanted to do a whole project based off of the intersections of colonialism, gender identity and race,” Alvarado said. “I really just wanted to chronicle a whole history that is forgotten. History itself is colonized or controlled by a male narrative or a white narrative and often other things are excluded like sexuality, so I really wanted to have marginalized stories; especially a story that is personal to me as a Puerto Rican woman.”

She worked on the project over the course of the entire semester, but she started doing research before the semester even started. She wrote blog posts all semester based on the information she gathered during her research, and wrote a 30 page paper.

“I have been researching Puerto Rican history in general for years now – I still do to this day,” Alvarado said. “I like to connect with activist groups online about it. I like to attend events if I can, for Puerto Rican liberation in order to become a free country and not a state in the United States.”

John McMahon, assistant professor of political science, was Alvarado’s advisor for the independent study.

“Lily has a very capacious and multifaceted and intersectional idea of what social justice means,” McMahon said. “It’s evident that that’s a commitment that she puts into practice as a student and in her life.”

McMahon said she fully commits herself to every reading, idea, political argument or theory that is in front of her and figures out how it works in relation to frameworks and ideas that she is already committed to.

“She’s one of the more intellectually curious people that I’ve met,” McMahon said. “[She is] insightful, politically intelligent, committed, and reflective of herself and others experiences.”

Alvarado is also the associate student representative for the eastern region for Tau’s Sigma Delta Tau, an international English honor society.

“Lily always walks the walk,” McMahon said. “When she makes a point in class or she has an idea that she’s pursuing, it’s never just something that’s abstract for her, but something that is meaningful and important in her own life and the lives of other peoples.”

Email Alana Penny at

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