Beverly Alvarez

Beverly Alvarez

By Jana Cunningham

Beverly Alvarez wasn’t the best student growing up, but she vividly recalls a few teachers who showed her constant encouragement and made her see her own potential. Now at 59 years old, Alvarez hopes to become a teacher who makes a difference in a child’s life.

It’s been a long and sometimes difficult road to get to this point in her life. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Alvarez moved to Salt Lake City in the late 80s without a high school degree, with two kids and on welfare.

Knowing the importance of an education, she earned her high school diploma, attended Salt Lake Community College and received an English degree from the University of Utah in 1993. She moved back to LA where she held various jobs after receiving her degree, but was laid off in 2007 due to the recession.

Looking for a fresh start, it was at this time Alvarez, a lifelong artist, decided to pursue her passion, so she returned to the University of Utah to obtain a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art Teaching.

She often wondered if she was doing the right thing, but was once again reassured by her instructors that she could succeed.

“She is an incredibly talented visual artist and is brilliant and humble,” said Beth Krensky, associate professor of art history.

Now Alvarez is ready to graduate and move back to LA to teach community-based art as a tool for social change to disadvantaged students. She hopes to inspire them as she was once was.

Through the instruction and opportunities she received in the College of Fine Arts, she feels ready to begin her new career.

“Throughout my time at the U I have been able to connect with the ArtsBridge program in collaboration with Salt Lake Peer Court to work with marginalized populations teaching art class and it’s been wonderful,” said Alvarez.

Alvarez hopes to be an inspiration to others by showing them it’s never too late to go back to school and never too late to contribute to society.


Jana Cunningham is a communication specialist at University Marketing and Communications. If you have an interesting story idea, email her at


The University of Utah commencement and convocation ceremonies are held annually at the conclusion of spring semester. Candidates for graduation from the summer 2014, fall 2014, spring 2015 or summer 2015 terms may attend. Commencement will be held on Thursday, May 7, 2015, at 6:30 p.m. at the Jon M. Huntsman Center. This year’s commencement speaker will be U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs and U alum Robert McDonald. Honorary degrees will be awarded to Anne Cullimore Decker, Henry B. Eyring and Mark Fuller. For more information, please visit the Commencement Ceremony page.