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Biology major explores what it means to be a Christian and a scientist

Biology major Nathalia Alvarez, '18, originally from Ponce, Puerto Rico, initially chose to attend Whitworth based on the university's science program, with the intent of pursuing medical school after graduation. Upon arriving on campus, she also found a welcoming Latin community and Christian fellowship in the Whitworth Women's Choir.

"I have always enjoyed science and learning the ins and outs of how things work and why, and biology has given me a great platform to explore that," Alvarez says. "I love studying biology because I get to see God's hand and His glory in what I study every day. The fact that there are such large mechanisms on Earth, and such intricate mechanisms in the human body that all work together to sustain life, points me to God and His love for all of us."

Alvarez has experienced growth in her Christian faith while attending Whitworth.

"As a Christian scientist, it was really important for me to be in a place where I was encouraged to incorporate my faith into what I was learning in the classroom," Alvarez says. "Being so far away from home, I have been able to really explore what it means to make my faith my own and pursue God because I want to and not because anyone else expects me to."

Another area that Alvarez sees faith at work in her life is through music and her involvement with the Whitworth Women's Choir.

"The most rewarding part of being in the choral program is seeing how music reaches people," Alvarez says. "We can never know how a song will speak to an individual if he or she is really in need of that message."

Nathalia sits against a window and smiles.

Relationships formed on campus have also contributed to her strengthened faith.

"I have loved surrounding myself with a community of wonderful people who encourage and support me in my faith," Alvarez says. "I am grateful for all of the edifying relationships that I have since coming to Whitworth."

These relationships have developed beyond the biology department. Some of Alvarez's favorite Whitworth memories are her experiences with the Heritage of Latino Americans (H.O.L.A.) Club, which seeks to promote, celebrate and share Latin American heritage with the Whitworth community.

"The H.O.L.A Club puts on ‘learn how to dance' events where they teach students how to dance salsa, bachata, meringue, and other types of Latin dances," Alvarez says. "As a Latina, I loved getting to go, hang out with my friends, listen to Spanish music, speak Spanish, and dance to a lot of my favorite Spanish music. It's also great to see so many different Latin cultures celebrated in that way, and to feel 'at home.'"

In addition to these areas, Alvarez is involved with intramural sports, leading worship at a local church, and tutoring both elementary-school children and Whitworth students.