A new face at Lakewood helps seniors get on track for college. Sarah Alvarez, who is the new College and Career Counselor at Lakewood, talks to many seniors to prepare them for college or other plans that they have if they will not attend college.
The College and Career Centers are a new initiative at Pinellas County high schools developed to provide individualized support for students throughout high school as they develop and pursue their post-graduation plans. The College and Career Center was opened at Largo High School in 2019 and four more were opened later that year at Pinellas Park High, Gibbs High, Boca Ciega High and Clearwater High schools.
Alvarez’ job is to set up the center at Lakewood High School by collaborating with school staff and to recruit, train and manage volunteers to support the students. The centers are funded by grants from donors.
Before coming to Lakewood, Alvarez was a volunteer at a College and Career Center at Robinson High School in Tampa. Robinson’s center was a model for the Pinellas County School’s centers. She now works for the Pinellas Education Foundation.
“My experience as a college and career volunteer was so rewarding that I was thrilled to learn about the opportunity to help bring this resource to students in Pinellas County high schools,” she said.
Alvarez grew up in Ohio and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Dayton. After she moved to Florida, she worked in advertising and sales, and then took some time off to raise her son, now a high school senior who will be attending University of Florida’s College of Engineering in the fall.
Alvarez said she helps students explore possible careers and helps them with college applications and essay preparation, financial aid and scholarship planning. She also helps with SAT/ACT prep.
“I think Ms. Alvarez will be a one-stop shop, support for students who need assistance with college and career planning. She will be an extra resource available to assist our school counselors, administrators and families,” principal Erin Savage said.
The Lakewood College and Career center is open Mondays and Tuesdays during school hours located around the corner from guidance counseling in room 1-022, and students are welcome to stop by for assistance to make an appointment.
Junior Sara Walker has already had the chance, like many other juniors and seniors, to meet and experience how Alvarez helps Lakewood students. Walker said she thinks Alvarez will have a good impact on her.
“I think this is a good thing that they came up with a College and Career Counselor because it makes things easier for students,” Walker said.