STUDENTS | June 7, 2021
Leslie Alvarado was enjoying her time playing volleyball at Hubbard High School, but something inside of her was pushing her to try belly dancing. For a while, worried that she wouldn’t be able to fit everything in, she remained focused on volleyball. It wasn’t until her junior year that she decided to do both, a choice she says was one of the best she’s made. She ended up loving belly dancing, calling performing with other clubs at the school’s International Night one of her favorite high school memories.
“To find out where your interests lie, you need to take the risk of joining clubs and extracurriculars. These are the risks that are necessary to succeed,” she said. “You need to believe in yourself to do anything, because when you start doubting yourself, things will start to go downhill.”
By branching out from volleyball to try belly dancing and different activities, Leslie began to realize that her interests were rooted in the arts. One of her biggest accomplishments was participating in Take Back the Halls, a program where students decide on a community activism project in partnership with DePaul University. She and her peers decided to advocate for beautifying her school’s bathrooms, and the student artwork now present in the Hubbard bathrooms is the result of her efforts.
Cinema Club was another important part of her time at Hubbard, solidifying her desire to pursue filmmaking as a career. She recalls working on a movie trailer project for one of her classes during her freshman year. While she felt extremely awkward in front of the camera, she loved editing the project. Now, just a few years later, she’s heading to DePaul to major in cinema studies with a goal of moving to Los Angeles to make movies.
“I grew up watching TV and loving watching stories unfold on a screen, but I never thought about how they were created or that I could be the one making the storylines before I was at Hubbard,” she said.
In preparation for college and her ambitious career goals, she has developed a strong work ethic in high school by building close relationships with her teachers and managing her time well. Even with all her activities and her rigorous International Baccalaureate course load, she still achieved perfect grades.
“Time management is important because it allows me to do things that I love, especially being in harder classes,” she said. “If I can’t do anything that I love, then life is just going to school and coming back over and over, and there’s nothing to look forward to.”
With just a few weeks of high school left, Leslie understands that the life she is envisioning for herself is subject to change. But, as she compares her freshman year self to her current self, she knows that changes are always going to be happening based on the decisions she makes on a daily basis. She’s excited to use her story to motivate not only herself but also those who will look up to her as someone who wasn’t afraid to try new things.
“If I have kids in the future, I want them to see my progress and how long it took me to find my calling. So many people talk about their final product but not their process,” she said. “For me, it took me a while to find out what I want to do and be passionate about it. At the same time, I don’t know exactly where my future will lie because of all the different opportunities. I can take one path, but then that will end up changing when I take another risk.”