Kelvin Perez Alvarez is a freshman studying music industry here at Delaware State University. He is an active member within his church as well as other musical worship groups. He is also dedicated to spreading the word of God and helping others as he travels on mission trips.
Q: Could you tell me about yourself, so we can get to know the person behind the face such as what was your upbringing like and where you are from?
A: I am from Ellendale, Delaware. I was raised by both of my parents despite their separation.
Q: Could you tell me about your parent’s ethnic background?
A: My mom is Mexican, and my dad is Puerto Rican. My mom is cool; I love my mom, she’s the best. She takes care of me, gives me all the Mexican food. We always go to Carne asadas with my family, and I love it because I get to see my family all together. My dad is the only person in his family that lives in Delaware, but sometimes we will visit Puerto Rico to see our family and sometimes they will visit us. It’s always just a good time seeing my family, we always go out and do stuff together.
Q: Do you feel that any part of your culture has influenced how you live everyday life?
A: No, not really. I feel that everyone pretty much lives the same day-to-day life, I don’t do anything specific or special just because of my culture.
Q: So, would you say that one side of your ethnic background has affected more of your life than the other?
A: Yes, my mom’s side definitely has since I live with her and I feel, this is going to sound kind of dumb, but I feel more Mexican than Puerto Rican. Anytime I go to Puerto Rico, I don’t really relate to anything there; I mean I relate because I am Puerto Rican of course, but I don’t feel Puerto Rican and it kind of feels like I am on vacation. When I’m in Mexico, I feel more welcome there. Whenever people hear that my mom is Mexican while I’m in Puerto Rico, they’re like ‘oh you’re not full Puerto Rican; you’re not pure’ because Puerto Ricans can be kind of weird like that. It’s like if you’re Puerto Rican mixed it’s kind of like you’re not Puerto Rican.
Q: So, it could be compared to pure bred dogs as another way of looking at it?
A: Yes, like pure bred dogs. If you’re Mexican, even if it’s the littlest amount of Mexican ethnicity in you, you’re Mexican. It takes over whatever else- you could be about 25% Mexican and 75% Chinese but because of that 25%, you’re Mexican.
Q: What individual has had the biggest impact on your life? Who helped shape you into the person you’re today?
A: I would have to say it’s Fernando; we are both musicians, go to the same church and play in the same band. He has very much influenced my life through my practices as a musician and also through encouraging me to obtain a degree here at Delaware State. Music is such a big part of my life, so he is definitely someone who has inspired me in this lifetime.
Q: Who is Fernando in your life, can you introduce him to us?
A: Fernando is a member of my church; he is now 61 years old and I guess you could say he is like a grandfather to me. I’ve been playing at church for about six years now and Fernando has been there the whole time. We’ve been playing together for a while, and I’ve picked up a lot of stuff from him and he’s shown me a lot of stuff when it comes to music. He is a very big influence in my musical career.
Q: So, you talked about your mom and your dad, could you tell us a little bit about your family dynamic?
A: I have two older sisters- Kayti lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and her two daughters, she is the eldest. My other sister, Karen, is studying at Del Tech currently. I am the only child living with my mom at the moment. My family is very big and loving on my mom’s side; we are always looking out for each other and we always get together to celebrate anything that we can celebrate. We always have Carne asadas, a big cookout, and have a good time together. We always support each other.
Q: Where did you attend high school? Can you tell me about your experience?
A: I went to Sussex Technical High School and my technical area, which is my focus area, was electrical green engineering. From that I learned some electrical trade skills. The year I remember the most was junior year, school had been shut down in the middle of my freshmen year and then I didn’t attend school in-person for my sophomore year. My senior year, I did this thing called work base learning and that’s basically when students are allowed to go out and work on location rather than learning in a classroom. Instead of working with something electrical related, I worked with Fernando as an apprentice plumber. My teacher thought it was a good idea since it still dealt with trade work of some sort.
Q: Do you have a most memorable moment or point from your work or school life?
A: I don’t have one currently, I have experienced fun times but nothing that really stands out to me.
Q: Think back five years ago, did you incision yourself in the position that you’re in today?
A: I knew I wanted to do something with music in my life, I didn’t know exactly what but I knew I wanted to do something with music. I didn’t know exactly where I wanted to attend college, I had no idea and really didn’t start thinking about it until high school. I just knew I wanted to do something with music for sure.
Q: So would you say that ideally, this is where you probably wanted to be five years ago?
A: Yes, I would say that.
Q: What influenced your decision to attend Del State?
A: What influenced me was the scholarship and the program that was offered here for music. When I was applying, I knew I wanted to do something with music production and DSU offered music industry which would allow me to produce music so that’s what intrigued me to attend Del State.
Q: What are your plans for your future?
A: So in five years, I will be graduated and I definitely want to start working as soon as possible in the studio. I would like to start getting studio time; I know that if I start working at a studio, I am not going to start recording right away. I will probably have to do other work such as setting up mics and other technical stuff. I just want to be in that environment.
Q: What advice would you offer to a student who is undecided on their career path?
A: If you’re undecided you need to figure it out. Just do something you really really enjoy no matter what it is. Do something you’re passionate about. Don’t do something because your parents want you to, or you’re being forced to follow a certain path.
Q: What would you say to the people who go into the field they love but they end up disliking it because it almost becomes like a chore to them?
A: Keep striving. It is going to become very routine and almost like a chore, yes, but it will become easier after that.
Q: How would you describe the state of higher education in America today?
A: I would say it’s on the rocks, many people don’t know if they want to get a higher education because of the expense. It’s so expensive that a lot of people just say ‘forget about it’ and do it their own way.
Q: What is your opinion on online vs in-person teaching?
A: Face-to-face is definitely better than online learning. I feel that when I am in a face-to-face environment, I am able to learn a lot better compared to an online learning environment. I also feel that the deadlines are stricter when learning face-to-face.
Q: Do you feel that face-to-face learning serves as a reminder to get your work done?
A: I feel that it is both an extra reminder and a motivator.
Q: Why would you say it serves as a motivator?
A: When I’m learning online, it’s easier to get distracted. But- when I am learning in a classroom, I’m more engaged because I have someone physically in front of me.
Q: What would you say about the argument ‘online classes reinforce accountability?’
A: I would say yes, because you can actually see who does their work. For example, I know some students that have online class but they just don’t do the work. But the people that do their work, you can tell that the student puts the work in and they’re going to have some sort of success.
Q: So would you say, a person’s accountability will determine their success?
A: Yes, because if they get their work done and get it done on time then that shows they have discipline and consistency.
Q: Could you talk about your experience in Mexico and Puerto Rico?
A: In Mexico they are very welcoming, humble and they appreciated that I was visiting my family there; It showed that I was getting in touch with my roots and not a lot of people do that as much as they should. In Puerto Rico it’s different, a lot of Puerto Ricans are almost stuck up in the sense that they think they are on top of the world and are competitive. A lot of people have this idea that even if you aren’t from the island and you’re Puerto Rican, you’re not better than the people that grew up on the island. But in reality, we’re all equal.
Q: Are you interested in politics?
A: I just never followed it; I know I should especially since I‘m a minority since it can directly affect my life but I just simply don’t follow politics.
Q: What is your take on the state of politics and the future of American democracy?
A: I have no idea.
Q: What do you think could possibly happen to America in the future?
A: I feel that America’s future is uncertain.
Q: What are your hobbies or extracurricular activities?
A: I love playing music, it is both a hobby and passion.
Q: What got you involved in music?
A: I have no idea, I just remember wanting to play since I was little and my parents had gotten me this little drum set for my seventh birthday and that’s where it all started. I’m pretty much the only musician in my family, my uncle plays but I never asked for his help.
Q: So, you said that you had started off playing the drums, when did you advance to other instruments?
A: Around fifth grade I picked up the trumpet for the school band. In sixth grade, I picked up the bass for church. Since I went to an arts school, around seventh and eighth grade, I chose to join the rock band and play the drums. We had about three drummers and we would take turns playing for different songs; when I wasn’t on the drum set, I would often play the bass. In eighth grade I picked up the guitar and I played that for school as well. Now, I am learning the piano. I want to branch out as much as I can with music.
Q: How would you describe your philosophy of life?
A: I heard this from someone in my class, ‘stay down until you come up.’ Basically, it means to stay humble and not flaunt what you have when you aren’t at your peak yet.
Q: When you’re down, how do you pick yourself up?
A: I go to church most of the time and pray to God.
Q: Can you talk about your relationship with God a little?
A: In sixth grade I was saved. My life has definitely gotten better compared to where I was. I don’t think I would be in the position I am today if it weren’t for God. I play my music for God as well so one of the reasons I am continuing my education in music is so I can play better for God.
Q: Have you shared that love for God with anyone else?
A: Yes, I tell people I am here because of him. I told my professors when I first got to Del State that I am here because of God.
Q: Can you tell me about your missionary work in Honduras?
A: In July of 2023, I went on a week-long mission with my church and my mom to Honduras. We fed people, we gave them both medical and dental care. My mom gathers clothes for mission trips- sometimes we will have 10-20 bins packed with just clothes, tightly packed- and we ship them over to other countries so that we can clothe as many people as we possibly can.
Q: What was your experience in terms of seeing how people lived, did it open your eyes more?
A: Yes, I have visited very poor parts of Puerto Rico and Mexico, but seeing those portions in other countries truly opened my mind a little more. The people there were so loving to us, they treated us so well. It was honestly such a blessing to be able to help these people. It’s a good feeling. I plan to go again next year and help more people.
Q: After seeing how the people in Honduras lived as well as the way they treated others despite their situation, has that made you want to implement any changes in your life going forward?
A: Yes, I definitely will focus on enjoying everyday and not letting little things get to me anymore. To see that standard of living firsthand, it truly makes me realize how blessed I am and that I should not be getting upset over tiny issues. For example, if someone messes up my order at McDonalds, I’m not going to get upset because the people in Honduras don’t even have McDonalds. It is very humbling.
Q: Do you have anything else that you like to live by?
A: I like to live by Romans 8:18, “Yet we suffer now, it is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.” I feel that also is kind of similar to the ‘stay down until you come up’ ideology.
Q: Can you complete the sentence ‘I am…’?
A: I am a student, musician and spiritual influencer.
From the time that Mr. Perez entered middle school, he was prepared to change his life in a way that would follow him forever. He put his life in the hands of God and has not looked back since. He spreads the word of God in every way he can, and he worships him with every note he plays. He continues to progress in every way he can throughout every aspect of his life, with God there to guide him.