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UC San Diego Extension Awards "Change The World" Alumni Scholarship


University of California, San Diego Extension today announced it has awarded Alexis Alvarez its “Change the World” Alumni Scholarship to pursue a certificate in the growing field of biostatistics and help further her career in clinical psychology.

The “Change the World” Alumni Scholarship offers financial assistance of up to $5,500 to pursue a continuing education certificate or special study program and is open to any University of California alumni.

Alvarez, who earned her bachelor of science in psychology from UC San Diego in 2013, hopes to use the biostatistics certificate to bolster her upcoming application for Ph.D. programs in clinical psychology.

“It’s super competitive to get into those programs so I’m hoping that being well versed in biostatistics will help me stand out,” she said. “This biostatistics certificate was an obvious résumé booster.”

Biostatistics, which is a growing field, especially in biotech-heavy San Diego, uses statistical and mathematical methods to analyze biological data.

Alvarez, a native San Diegan who lives in Banker’s Hill, also hopes it will help her in her current role as a research assistant by strengthening her ability to collect and analyze data to better serve mentally ill patients. 

“I collect tons of data every day,” she said. “I want to be able to take all that information and analyze and translate it in order to help educate people.”

Ed Abeyta, assistant dean for community engagement at UC San Diego Extension, said the Change the World Scholarship is designed to help University of California graduates further their careers by providing them with practical training for in-demand jobs.

“UC San Diego Extension is founded on the notion that life-long learning is important not only for an individual’s own career and personal advancement but also for the impact it has on our region and our world,” Abeyta said.

“With her commitment to gaining the skills she needs to truly help the mentally ill, Alexis is a perfect example of how UC San Diego Extension can improve the lives not only of the students it serves but of the larger community as well.”

Alvarez initially was drawn to psychology because she enjoyed talking to patients who were struggling with a host of issues including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and a variety of addictions.

“I was sitting down and talking to them and getting the full exposure of the patients and their lives,” she remembers. “It can be like a forgotten world. People don’t understand the severity of these illnesses.”

But Alvarez realizes empathy is not enough when it comes to mental illness. She hopes that by attaining her certificate in biostatistics that she will be able to harness the power of data to find ways to alleviate suffering.

“The end goal of anyone in research is to come up with ideas that can be put into an experiment that produces conclusive data and then use that data to help with everything from early diagnosis to improving everyday functions,” she said.

The “Change the World” Scholarships are awarded each academic quarter. Applications for the upcoming quarter must be received by Aug. 15. The UC San Diego Extension Scholarship Committee reviews applications four times a year but reserves the right to not award a scholarship.

The qualifying requirements for the scholarship can range from cultural enrichment to regional economic development. Extension seeks to reward alumni who demonstrate the promise and potential to improve the quality of life in the San Diego region and beyond.