Mike Alvarez (IMA '10, MFAW '13) is a two-time Goddard graduate of the Master of Arts in Individualized Studies and the MFA in Creative Writing programs.
He was recently awarded the prestigious Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans. The fellowship honors and supports young New Americans – immigrants and children of immigrants – and recognizes annually thirty New Americans who seem best positioned to use their graduate training in this country to prepare them to make distinctive contributions to American life.
Mike is one of thirty winners in a national competition that attracted more than twelve hundred applicants! He will receive tuition and stipend support worth up to $90,000 towards his study in Communications at University of Massachusetts Amherst.
About Mike Alvarez:
Mike was ten when his family left their comfortable lifestyle in the Philippines to move to a rough neighborhood in Jersey City. The transition proved bumpy, to say the least. After several months, Mike's father went home, leaving his mother as the family's sole support.
Instilled with a love for learning, Mike excelled at school--but a rift was opening up in his mental world. As an undergraduate at Rutgers University, he suffered from debilitating anxiety that turned into horrifying delusions and a suicide attempt. A stay in hospital was a turning point, steering him toward the study of mental health. Mike's senior thesis on the relationship between creativity and suicide won the Charles Flaherty Award and was subsequently expanded into his Master’s thesis at Goddard College.
Mike is currently enrolled in the Communications PhD program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he is studying the phenomenon of cybersuicide. The social stigma of mental illness is Mike's subject of investigation. Having spent time in the mental health system himself, he would like to help increase public understanding of psychiatric disorders.
Recognizing the power of personal narratives and building on his Goddard thesis, he has also completed a memoir about his own journey through mental illness. He recently signed with Penumbra Literary.
Mike says this of his Goddard College experience:
"The IMA program has taught me not to be ashamed of my scars. That by articulating these scars, I’m bringing silenced narratives into discourse, which can be very empowering to others. My work on madness, suicide, and human creativity, is really an attempt to map a cartography of the range of human expression – its hinterlands, its buoyant waves.
"And what Goddard did, is that it made me realize how much I love reading stories, how much I love writing stories, and that the stories I read and write are all connected in this magical, ineffable way."