Release Date: 
Wednesday, May 17, 2023

HawkStrong: HFC alumnus is the first in his family to earn a bachelor’s degree

Santos Alvarez photo
HFC alumnus Santos Alvarez transferred from HFC to Rochester University and became the first person in his family to earn a bachelor's degree on April 29. Alvarez attended both educational institutions on wrestling scholarships.

April 29 was a proud day for HFC alumnus Santos Alvarez when he crossed the stage during commencement at Rochester University to become the first person in his immediate family to earn a bachelor’s degree.

“I’m very proud of this historic occasion,” said Alvarez, who lives with his fiancée and 8-year-old son in Algonac. “I’m grateful to be the first person in my family to accomplish this. I certainly hope I am not the last person in my family to do this!”

A graduate of Algonac High School, Alvarez, the second of seven children, earned his bachelor’s degree in sports management from Rochester. His GPA at Rochester was 3.5.

HFC was the bridge to Rochester

Santos transferred from HFC, which he attended on a wrestling scholarship and studied business management. During his time at HFC, Alvarez wrestled for two seasons, notched 41 wins, and was a two-time national qualifier.

“HFC gave me the opportunity to wrestle again,” said Alvarez. “I’m grateful for Coach Grant MacKenzie for recruiting me. Wrestling for Coach MacKenzie was a genuinely great experience. He honestly changed my life when he brought me into HFC wrestling. I was really lucky to connect with Coach MacKenzie because he was the link between me and Coach Wesley Maskill at Rochester.”

Transferring to Rochester on a wrestling scholarship, Alvarez wrestled for two years,l where his overall record was 28-17.

“I faced a lot of adversity at Rochester,” he said. “I had a few injuries, so I did not get to compete as much as I would have liked.”

MHSAA state qualifier

Alvarez initially didn’t want to be a wrestler and even scoffed at the sport. That changed when he attended one of his older cousin’s wrestling matches. Impressed by his cousin’s athleticism and tenacity, Alvarez joined his school's wrestling team when he was in seventh grade.

After his first practice, Alvarez realized how much he enjoyed the sport. At AHS, he was the captain of the wrestling team for three years. He was a three-time Michigan High School Athletic Association state qualifier. He placed sixth his sophomore year and third in both his junior and senior years. He was also a three-time district champion and a regional champion. His record at AHS was 178-31 (47-3 his senior year).

Alvarez, who works at NFL Flag Football in Rochester as a game-day representative, would like to coach wrestling at AHS. He aspires to a career in sports management and would like to open a fitness center in the next decade.

“It was destined to be that way”

Alvarez reiterated that he would not have been able to earn his bachelor’s degree if he had not first attended HFC.

“I faced a lot of adversity with school, work, and wrestling. I learned a lot about time management, prioritizing, organization, and discipline,” he said. “Without the journey I experienced at HFC, I don’t think I would have been fully committed to finish the journey at Rochester. HFC led me to Rochester. I believe that it was destined to be that way for me.”

MacKenzie is proud of his former student-athlete.

“His is a great success story. I’m glad I was able to convince him to wrestle at HFC and pursue a degree in sports management,” said MacKenize. “Santos was exciting to watch compete and fun to work with in practice because he was self-motivated to be great. That positive intrinsic quality will follow him the rest of his life.”