Omar is a very warm, outgoing young man, who always puts the needs of others before himself. He is very curious, listens and observes without judgement. He often thinks of ideas to improve and find solutions, no matter how big or small the situation may be. He has always been captivated by the desire to help others and has been part of many community outreach events that are organized by his family’s business. He’s always the first in line for the opportunity to make a difference in the hearts of others.
An annual Easter tradition, Omar’s family travels to Mexico. During their trips, it is tradition to take donations to a church in his father’s hometown. This year Omar organized a shoe drive at his school prior to his trip and received over one hundred pairs of shoes for donation in three days! He’s truly passionate about the idea of one day making a difference in the world.
Q. How did you organize your recent successful shoe drive at your school? Did you recruit help from friends and family?
A. Every time that we’ve brought donations to Mexico I’ve noticed that the first thing people look for are shoes, and I wanted to bring more this time, so I asked the principal and my junior high classmates to help me with a shoe drive. I was very glad they supported me. A week before my friends started donating shoes I handed out flyers which made my friends aware of the cause and made them want to help with the situation. My mom mostly just helped me with the design of the flyer.
Q. Is this shoe drive the beginning of a new tradition?
A. The shoe drive is not the beginning of a new tradition, but more like the continuation of a tradition we already had, on a larger scale. We usually go to Mexico every year for spring break and bring clothes and shoes we don’t use to give out to the people in need. This year I wanted to bring more and I knew I needed more help for this cause. I was able to round up over 100 pairs of sneakers and shoes for the people in Mexico, and I was glad to share our tradition with my classmates.
Q. What was the response of the shoe recipients?
A. The Mexican customs border stopped us for a check out routine and, unfortunately, they confiscated the shoes because we needed a permit to bring the shoes across the border. They said it was against the law to bring used items in large quantities due to health and/or resale. We were able to still keep a few pairs and a few bags of clothes that belonged to us, so we took them to a small church in my dad’s home town were people in need were able to pick them up. Next year we will make sure to be prepared with permits and everything we need to bring the used items to Mexico for donation, because I really want to bring people together for this cause.
A. I have always been very interested in electronics and machines, but most importantly how they work. I have worked before on a simple exoskeleton using hydraulics and pieces of bars of metal to mount the hydraulics onto. I have also made many simple circuits, such as a radio or telegram. Most recently, I’ve been interested in how the motors of cars work and have built a model engine a few times to attain a simple understanding of how it works.
Q. Can you tell us about your technology research?
A. I usually am very interested in the technology that the U.S. army is developing. Just like the exoskeleton I was interested in, which enhances strength, it is also capable of making victims of paralysis able to walk again. Recently, I have been researching a new type of armor called liquid body armor that uses shear thickening fluid treated kevlar which stops a bullet at 14 times a better rate than regular kevlar does.
Q. How has St. Thomas the Apostle prepared you for the coming years?
A. STA has definitely prepared all students for the future by showing us things that will come in handy when we are in high school. They have showed us things that we would normally learn later to make us used to more advanced subjects and expectations.
Q. Who is most influential in your life?
A. The most influential person in my life is my Dad because of the example that he has set, showing me that anyone can be successful, no matter where they begin, if they dedicate themselves to their goal. He has also always told me to never give up, and has taught me, through his words and actions, to be an honest person because honesty will always bring you further than any lie you ever make.
Omar Alvarez is an eighth grader at Saint Thomas the Apostle Catholic School.