You could say that Bethany Alvarez is thankful for the McNair Scholars Program. In fact, it saved her undergraduate life, as she puts it.
“McNair gave me direction, encouraged me to push myself to my academic limits, and empowered me. I was given full liberty to research whatever topic interested me,” Bethany said.
Bethany is a senior Health Science major from Tiverton, RI. She has been involved in a variety of campus clubs and activities, including serving as president of the Humane Society Club and Vice President of Academics for Student Government. She also helped to start the “brainpower” healthy snacks provided by TRIO. On top of all of this, she works full-time as a medical scribe at Rutland Regional Medical Center.
Bethany is also a talented and self-taught artist. She sold pet portraits and dedicated a large portion of those funds toward helping the Rutland County Humane Society.
The role the McNair Scholars Program has played in her development cannot be overstated. Bethany said Director Amanda Richardson became more than a mentor. She became a friend, colleague, role model, and hero. While facing various challenges throughout college, she considered taking a gap year.
“Amanda stepped in over and over and helped me accomplish the small steps so I could focus on the large ones. Working full time in the Emergency Room at RRMC and attending school full time was taxing. I cannot thank her enough,” Bethany said.
After graduation, Bethany will pursue a Master’s of Public Health in Behavioral, Community, and Social Health at Indiana University at Bloomington.
“My main interest is health disparities and providing more accessible healthcare to our country at large. After completing this, I will likely work for the CDC or WHO for a few years before I move on to obtain an MD and become a family physician,” Bethany said.
Bethany said Dr. Brad Coupe had a tremendous positive impact on her as a student.
“He’s gone above and beyond as an advisor and professor. It’s clear he’s extremely passionate about teaching, and he values honesty, fairness, and hard work,” Bethany said. “His open-door policy reflects how much he loves getting to know his students. He’s down to earth, easy to talk to, upbeat, friendly, funny, empathetic, and still extremely professional. He’s a role model to me, and I hope Castleton recognizes just how great Dr. Coupe is.”
Castleton has helped Bethany reach her goals, and she found that the variety of courses allowed her to hone in on what she liked. Once she found a major, courses like Child and Adolescent Development helped her understand the fundamentals of healthcare and the dire community need for affordable, quality, accessible education.
“Castleton faculty and staff are warm, compassionate, and energetic. They are flexible and willing to help you. They really do want you to succeed and go on to do bigger and better things, and that really reflects the values of the campus. I think that’s a very unique and wonderful thing about Castleton,” Bethany said.
About the McNair Scholars Program
The McNair Scholars Program is a federally-funded TRIO program administered by the U.S. Department of Education. The program grants a limited number of colleges and universities around the country the ability to help low-income and first-generation students, as well as students from ethnic groups that are under-represented in doctoral study, to pursue graduate education. Castleton's McNair Scholars Program was established in 2017.