Ana Belén Álvarez, Outstanding Service

Ana Belén Álvarez
Ana Belén Álvarez

Degree: Doctor of Philosophy, Romance Languages⁠—Spanish Literature

Hometown: Barcelona, Spain

Service Overview: Before starting my MA at the University of Alabama, while I was in Spain, I helped kids between the ages of six and eighteen to be successful in their studies. The most rewarding experience about those years, besides seeing them thrive, was the mentoring part.

I was studying Criminal Justice in Spain when, during my senior year, I had the opportunity to come to Tuscaloosa for an internship at the Tuscaloosa Police Department. I served the community for 560 hours, although I feel that the community contributed much more to me than I did to it. One of the most rewarding experiences I had during the internship was working at the Child Advocacy Center in Tuscaloosa. Working with children who have been abused is not easy, but I felt that the work we did was worth it when I saw them smile and play as if nothing bad had happened. In this same field, I have also served as a volunteer in the Spanish National Association Against Harassment (ANPAC) for over 3 years. I have created protocols to help harassment victims, advised both victims and their relatives, and I have also led the volunteer team from the beginning.

As a graduate student, The University of Alabama provided me the chance to combine my passion for reading, writing, and criminology; and I would like to give back this opportunity through service. In 2019, during my first semester in Graduate School, I volunteered to help organize the 48th Annual Convention of the Federación de Círculos de Español de Alabama (FCEA). This event, known also as the Spanish Convention, brings together more than five hundred Alabama high school students for a fun day of competitions.

Last academic year, I served as the Communications Chair at The University of Alabama Language Conference. In that position I was able to network with scholars: more than fifteen universities from all over the country were represented. Following this momentum, I became the President of the Language, Literature, and Linguistics Graduate Student Organization, and the Conference Chair for 2020-2021. This year, when it seems that we are all further apart than ever, my purpose is to connect students, professors, and researchers from all over the world. I would like that all the participants could create a space where we could share our research and learn from our colleagues. Universities are enormous producers of knowledge, but that knowledge is less valuable if it is not shared with our communities.

This academic year I am also serving as the President of the Spanish Graduate Student Organization, La última letra. We, as language graduate students, are given the chance to organize workshops that can help us in our academic development, to invite guest speakers, and to create community among us. Specifically, this year we are promoting a Spanish Radio Club. Given the circumstances, the meetings take place through Zoom, but they are an excellent opportunity to speak up and discuss social issues that involve more disadvantaged communities.

These volunteer opportunities have allowed me to engage with various populations within and outside of the university and grow as a scholar, thinker, and leader.