Seeing Life Differently | DECADE

Carlos Canela Cuevas ’16 reflects on his journey though education as a first-generation college student.

• Accounting & business management major
• Born in the Dominican Republic
• First-generation college student
• Active in campus ministry

My grandparents were farmers in the Dominican Republic. My mother is a housewife and my father an electrician. Both were born and live in the Dominican Republic. I too am Dominican by nationality but came to America and Alvernia for the opportunity they both represent.

Neither my parents nor my grandparents went to college, but my parents figured it was crucial for me to receive higher education. Today, I am the second person in my family to go to college.

My parents stressed the value of higher education ever since I can remember. “We are poor, my son” or “I am not well off,” my father used to say, “but education is the key to being successful in life.” His words resonated with me.

My mission throughout school has been to strive to be the best. While I was in high school, I came to fully understand the importance of higher education. I kept thinking of all the perks college had to offer. Earning a college degree would allow for me to get a good job, live a prosperous lifestyle and have an arsenal full of interpersonal skills.

Along with these benefits, I quickly realized the dangers that lay ahead if I would move forward without my college degree. Either way, I never forgot the greatest lesson I have ever learned from my parents: always pursue my dream — even when I think I might not succeed.

Alvernia University caught my attention at a young age. When I was living in the Dominican Republic, I remember Alvernia students coming every year to work with the Bernardine Franciscan Sisters in my community. Despite being young, I always thought that their mission and help were blessings from God, and I felt as though I needed to take part in it. So in 2012, I began my journey to become a student of Alvernia. And that was the most exciting moment of my life.

It felt like a dream come true when I was given the opportunity to join the Alvernia family. It seemed like the beginning of a new world for me. With higher education on my mind all the time, I was finally making my dreams into reality. This university has taught me so much and shaped both my personal and professional lives in ways I never thought possible.

From the very first day, I felt very comfortable, and honestly felt like I was with family. Staff and faculty members were so welcoming, and that feeling helped me throughout my studies. It has been three years since I came to Alvernia and, to this day, professors and staff members are still helpful.

When I first came to Alvernia, I thought the most important thing was to do my homework while also studying all of the time. As time passed, I saw that being a member of different clubs and honor societies would help better form me for future professional success. These clubs are full of people from different backgrounds and majors, making the interaction incredible and one of a kind. It seems like each day I learn something new from the people around me.

With graduation in the near future, I reflect a lot on my time here at Alvernia. Believe it or not, the core values the university is built upon have allowed me to see my life differently. I’ve learned that the college journey isn’t just about getting some piece of paper. It’s about constructing a foundation of values for my own future career.

Service, humility, peacemaking, contemplation and collegiality are the concepts that have changed the way I see life. Higher education is important in today’s society, but higher education without personal values is meaningless.

I am extremely proud of all I have achieved while attending Alvernia. Due to my first-generation status, I never thought that I would perform well in college, but I proved myself wrong. My parents taught me that anything I put my mind to is possible.

The mere fact that they believed in me served as the motivation that kept me going on this journey. One of my favorite sayings is “Where there is a will, there is a way,” and I believe I am finding my way. My primary goal is to make my family and friends proud by graduating from college with honors. They deserve it, and they have been with me since day one.

They serve as the reason behind my strong will to accomplish my dreams. And because of my will, I found a way.