Champion of Change Aura Alvarado incorporates the mantra “be the change you wish you see in the world” into the fabric of her everyday life. Even though her day job as the Director of Communications for the Capitol Region Education Council is committed to spreading the word and helping others to achieve academic success, she still finds time to affect change within the Latino community by volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Boys and Girls Club.
How does the work you do for the Capitol Region Education Council help Latino students?
My responsibilities include fostering the public understanding of, and support for, the CREC’s mission. Most importantly to me and the other CREC Latino leaders is for our families to know that we are here for them for whatever assistance they may need, from early childhood to students and adult learners.
One of my passions is being a role model to our youth. Once a month I go and speak to a group of middle school Latinas to just talk about the issues that are important to them. We talk about boys and school, but mostly I talk to them about what they want to be when they group up and how they will achieve their goals. I tell them how important it is to have positive role models or someone to talk too.
I often bring other Latino leaders to meet with them so they can see that people who look like them and had similar experiences as them are doing great things in our community. I didn’t get where I am today on the regular route, I chose the hard route, but no matter what road you take, if you learn from your mistakes you can climb the toughest mountain. The trick is not being up there alone but helping others join you.
What do you do outside of work to benefit the Latino community?
Outside of work I do whatever I can to lend a helping hand. Mainly, I am known for “If there is a need, I find you the answer to guide you in the right direction.” That is what brings joy to my heart. If someone tells me they don’t have clothes or bedding, I start looking for them.
I also am on the board of the Boys and Girls Club of Hartford. I am there as a Latina leader and role model for the Latino students. It is important for them to see someone like them who understands what they are going through who they can look up to. Most of them don’t know that I have an important job. Honestly, I like it that way because then they to get know me better. In all the boards that I participate in I make sure I share my message.
What drew you to work for Big Brothers Big Sisters? What difference do you aim to make in their lives?
My network of friends are key in finding out where you are needed. I found out that Nutmeg Big Brothers Big Sisters struggle with getting “bigs” to mentor the “littles”. There are Latina littles out there waiting to be matched with someone who looks like them and can relate to their culture. My work on the Latino Advisory has been minimal, but I hope it has made an impact.
Are you still involved in working with the Puerto Rican community after serving as the chair of the CT Institute for Community Development for the Puerto Rican Parade?
I spent eight years with this amazing group of individuals making sure Puerto Rican culture is alive and present. This was and still is being done on a volunteer basis. It’s an immense amount of work and time commitment. The parade has a 45 year history and I wish more of the people who choose to focus on the negative would come and support it by bringing new ideas and collaboration.
Why do you think it’s important to give back to the Latino community? How would you like to see the Latino community move forward through your work?
I never thought of it as giving back, but just what I love to do. I am a collaborator and believe there is a solution to all things. “Be the Change you want to see” is my favorite inspirational quote. “Un ser humano puede, pero dos, tres o un grupo de gente juntos log pueden lograr” (please pardon my Spanish). If I can be remembered for helping one person, it would be my proudest day.