Michelle Alvarez

Dr. Michelle Alvarez

The more students can learn about psychology, the more insight they will gain on how to interact with others, which can affect how successful they will be in their field. Dr. Michelle Alvarez , Adjunct Faculty , The Art Institute of California—San Diego, a campus of Argosy University
What would you say is the defining moment in your life when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

An administrator at the school recommended that I start teaching after I completed my doctorate; so you could say that I fell into teaching. I really enjoy the creative component of teaching; you are developing a curriculum and have the freedom of delivering it in a style that suites you and the classroom. 

How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience to provide an industry veteran's sense of the realities / challenges / opportunities of the profession?

Anytime you have hands-on experience in the industry, it brings a personal component to teaching. In class, if I am trying to demonstrate a certain mental illness, I can share a story from a patient experience, leaving out names for confidentiality. It gives it a more personal touch and makes the situations more relatable.

Is there a class assignment that exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring? Similarly, how does your approach inspire each student to push themselves beyond their own perceived limits?

During my personality theories class, I give a lot of personality assessments to the students. It is one of my favorite topics and I find that students either love or hate the assessments, depending on how much insight they want to have into their personality.  

What role does collaboration contribute to students' success, especially when students from other programs contribute to the same project?

The more students can learn about psychology, the more insight they will gain on how to interact with others, which can affect how successful they will be in their field. No matter what career path they choose, they will have to work with others. 

In your opinion, what is the single most important thing you impart to your students to help them succeed in your class and in the real world? Alternatively, what is the most critical advice you would offer any student as he / she embarks on a creative career?

Instilling a sense of motivation. If you don’t have motivation, you will not be able to finish what you start. If your goal is a degree, you need to create baby steps to finish along the way so the process is not overwhelming. 

Is there anything else you'd like us to know about you, your experience, or your role as a faculty member at The Art Institutes?

I have my doctorate in counseling psychology and enjoy photography, hiking and running.