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Reaching for the stars

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Brittany Alvarez (right) with her mom, Maria. Brittany planned out four years of high school classes that let her graduate with a college degree without leaving the Tri High campus.
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Brittany Alvarez graduated June 2 from Tri High School with an Associate’s degree from Ivy Tech. Her mortar boardwas decorated with a quote from the show “Gilmore Girls” that reads“What she tackles, she conquers!”

By TRAVIS WEIK - tweik@thecouriertimes.com

LEWISVILLE — Brittany Alvarez wants to be an astronaut.

And if the Lewisville graduate keeps on this path, she very well may call in her next newspaper interview from the International Space Station.

Alvarez picked up her Tri High School diploma June 2... the same day she picked up her associate’s degree from Ivy Tech Community College.

All the school systems in Henry County offer a route through the New Castle Career Center for teens to graduate high school with Ivy Tech certificates, technical certificates or a two-year degree.

Through careful planning and dedication to her studies, Alvarez figured out a way to earn the coveted degree without leaving Tri High School’s campus.

No one said it was going to be easy, though.

Alvarez took 10 classes her senior year of high school. That included one online class and college speech, which is was offered at Tri High School through Indiana University.

“Everything was at Tri. I never left,” Alvarez said. “Most days, I stayed after school until 8 p.m.” 

It seemed like a relatively “small step” for the young woman who is challenging herself to a space race.

“I wanted to pursue either a double major with engineering and music or do a master’s degree,” she said, “Why not get a bunch of stuff done and out of the way? Why retake English and speech if I can do it in high school? ...Why not get it out of the way now and I can do it for free?”

With that jump on college done, 18 year old Alvarez expects to have her master’s degree complete before her 24th birthday.

Alvarez is a Driscoll Scholar at Holy Cross College and Notre Dame. Move in day is Aug. 24.

“I’m studying engineering at Notre Dame, while doing all the general classes at Holy Cross,” she said. “They’re planning on letting me either pursue two majors or doing a master’s degree on top of my engineering major in only five years.”

Driven her entire life

Alvarez’s mom, Maria, said Brittany’s ambition didn’t just start when she got to Tri Junior-Senior High School.

“Actually, she’s been like this since kindergarten,” Maria said.

There was the time Brittany’s third-grade science fair project caught the eye of Susan McDowell, Vice Provost of Research at Ball State University.

“She offered for me to come to her lab and we worked with cancer cells in the brain,” Brittany said. “The driving force was ‘Remember this cool activity.’ I think back on that a lot.”

Brittany said that moment is probably what keeps her digging more and more into science.

Her fifth-grade science fair project was about wind turbines, a particularly timely subject since two different companies had been interested in building wind farms in her part of the county at that time. Because of her work and research, Brittany was asked by the wind energy companies to present her project at a public meeting in Rush County.

Her passion for learning isn’t limited to classroom work, either.

Brittany Alvarez was on the Tri Academic Teams from 2013-2019. She was captain of the Social Studies team the years they placed second and third in state. She was also the captain of the Science and Interdisciplinary teams and a member of the Math team.

Most recently, Brittany was the Tri High School Drum Major, the president of the Tri High Business Professionals of America (BPA) chapter and vice president of communications for the State BPA.

She was also an Ambassador and fundraiser for the Indianapolis Children’s Choir, a member of the anti-drug program VOICE, the Tri High Forensics Club, Buddies Making Better Choices Student Council and The Illustrious Clients of Indianapolis.

Brittany is also a 10-year 4-H member and the 2019 Miss Henry County. She will be in the Indiana State Fair parade Sunday with 4-H county queens from all over the state.

Maria, on the other hand, put 72,000 miles on her car driving Brittany around the state to various extra-curricular activities.

The Alvarez women are inspired by a quote from “Gilmore Girls,” their new favorite show: “What she tackles, she conquers!”

Hard work pays off

Not only is Brittany starting college with two years already complete, but her first full year at Holy Cross College and Notre Dame is already paid for.

Brittany Alvarez received the 4-H Jr. Leader Scholarship, the Jessica Hale Memorial 4-H Scholarship, the Straughn Alumni Association Scholarship, the VFW- Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1282 Scholarship, the Kelly Thompson Opportunity Fund and the Jackman Education Scholarship.

Maria said Brittany treated paying for college as a sort of job.

Brittany’s ultimate career may be out among the stars.

To prepare for that, she’s spent a lot of time at the Link Observatory in Martinsville.

“They’ve been helping me out with ideas of what I could be doing,” she said. “They’ve always given some of the greatest space information that’s up to date.”

Brittany said the observatory has already talked to her about a possible internship ... at NASA.