Bringing the best: who's the next Oscar?


The Columbia commitment to Just Societies begins on campuses with financial aid, helping deserving students come to campus regardless of ability to pay. Oscar Alvarez ’17GS, a scholarship recipient, is one example of the transformative impact of scholarships.

Born in Colombia, Alvarez moved to Miami at age eight and became a professional soccer player after high school in Colombia. An injury forced him to shift his athletic ambitions and rethink his future, which brought him to Columbia with the Program of Academic Leadership and Service (PALS) scholarship. “The School of General Studies has been a perfect fit,” said Alvarez. “It’s an incredible community of non-traditional students connected to the entire University and the larger world.”

At Columbia, Alvarez has supported political campaigns, joined world-renowned economist Joseph Stiglitz’s think tank about international development, and founded the Columbia Private Equity Group, a student-run organization that shares private equity investment and career insights.

The PALS scholarship also asks recipients to serve others as this opportunity has served them. “I’ve mentored high school students so that one day they might be able to attend Columbia and have the same opportunities I was given,” said Alvarez.


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