Subscribe to our Newsletter

Sign up for Kroc School News and Events

Join nearly 10,000 Changemakers when you subscribe to the Kroc School's monthly e-newsletters. Subscribe

Kroc School Student Bianca Alvarado Receives Gerry Bush Scholarship

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Bianca Alvarado is currently enrolled as a student at the Kroc School in the Master of Arts in Social Innovation program. The following is a personal essay she wrote in January 2018 which helped her earn the Gerry Bush Scholarship, one of several scholarships given away to deserving students. Bianca generously allowed us to publish this essay about her life prior to attending the University of San Diego, and her intentions to shape a better world for others in the future.

Bianca Alvarado, center, leading a hands-on S.T.E.A.M. workshop for youth in Tijuana.

Coming from a low-income, first generation immigrant family, and being the first college graduate from my family has come with great challenges. Many times, I felt like I was walking with blinders on because there was no one to guide me or my education. Individuals, like stars on a dark night, have appeared on my search path and it has been through them that I have participated in recognized programs, scholarships, and opportunities locally and internationally. It is my dream to take blinders away from other students and encourage them to become leaders in their communities, region, or country.

Crossing daily at three or four in the morning, the Tijuana/ San Diego International Border was one of the greatest challenges that I have experienced. I was eleven years old with a family of nine crossing daily with their blue old van and using the park or a store’s parking lot as a home. The border also separated my family for many years because my dad lived and worked in Santa Barbara, and visited us only on the weekend in Tijuana. Growing up along the border was challenging, but today the border is part of my profession and passion. Turning challenges into opportunities is a skill that I want to teach to youth in Chula Vista through Baja Urban’s (BU) Hispanic Leadership program (more information below). As a former teacher for the Sweetwater School District, I became aware of my passion to serve the Hispanic youth in the Chula Vista community. However, I rapidly became aware of the limitations that I had in the classroom as a teacher to empower students as I had to comply with CA standards with little extra time to teach high school students about leadership, business, and creativity.

My dream goal is to create both a business and a social program in one. The business will sell handmade products from South America. We currently have a swimwear line from Colombia. Five to 10 percent of the sales from each purchased product will be donated to our Hispanic Youth Leadership Program. In this program we will collaborate with other local stakeholders to create conferences to inspire and empower Hispanic youth to design their dream career. As our business grows in revenue, we will grow the number of programs that we offer.

I am a student in the Master’s degree program in Social Innovation at the University of San Diego where I earned the Dean’s Graduate Merit Scholarship and the Kroc School Knauss Family Scholarship to pay for more than half of my tuition. This is a one-year accelerated program where I have been analyzing, examining, and evaluating social programs. Through hard-work and dedication, I achieved a 3.6 GPA for my first semester where I carried 13 units. As my practicum class, I’m currently consulting for Solo Eyewear (a San Diego business) helping them identify an artisan product from Mexico to add to their line, so I am interviewing collectives from indigenous communities in Chiapas and Oaxaca. I plan to use this learning on project management with BU next semester during my capstone class where I will receive support and guidance. Spring 2018 will be my last and most intensive semester at USD. I will be taking 14 units, competing in two on-campus competitions, and planning the structure for BU.

However, I still need funding to finance my basic personal necessities, books, and transportation cost for this last semester. Financial support would allow me to focus my energy, creativity, and resources in developing and implementing the concept behind BU instead of having to work a side job.


If you’re interested in donating a scholarship, visit our Giving website or contact Marty Remmell, Director of Development for the Kroc School at


Justin Prugh
(619) 260-7573

Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies


Contact Us


Visit Campus

5998 Alcalá Park
San Diego, CA 92110