Alva Gardner-Perez is a powerhouse. She graduated from Northeastern in 2006 with a Bachelor of Science in International Business a minor in French. After this, she attended Cambridge University, The International University of Monaco (an INSEEC University), and City University (University College of London) as well.
Alva was one of WWE’s first ambassadors, but her journey with women’s empowerment started long before. She has been an advocate for women since high school, founding a Colorado State-wide Diversity Initiative, and has been active in female empowerment in the workplace in every shape possible. After graduation, she worked at Barclays and started a network for Women starting their careers. She began co-heading a program to empower junior members to excel in the workplace and to encourage the board to pay more attention to the women at this stage of their careers. The foundation was a mentorship program that started in the Investment Banking division and then quickly spread across the entire Barclays group. With this initiative, she had a chance to work with Barclay’s head of diversity and was incremental in helping Barclays promote junior women within the organization.
“I intrinsically want to see women succeed”
Alva continued being an advocate for women in the workplace and held an event in London in the hopes to keep accountability. It was very well received and the goal was set to have more women in the workplace by 2020. Alva mentioned that at the beginning of the journey, 2020 felt like a long way away, just reminding us how far we’ve come now in 2021.
Years later when Alva went on maternity leave, she decided to upskill by coding with Mums in Tech. Through her journey she saw firsthand how working mothers were not given the same opportunities, leading her to join Mums in Tech during the remainder of her maternity leave and after returning to work. There, she advised the British, French, and American Governments on how to better support women in the workplace post-birth.
Continuing her work, she connected with Northeastern’s Women Who Empower via The NEU Young Global Leaders program. Working with the team she planned the first WWE international event in London. It was only natural for her to join the community as an ambassador at the start of the program in the summer of 2020.
“We are nothing if we only focus on ourselves”
As an ambassador, Alva had a chance to run various events as well as interview Swannee Hunt for the Experiential Philanthropy Series. She described it as such a fangirl moment and how some of Swannee’s initiatives impacted her personally. Alva mentions how money is just a vehicle — we can either use it selfishly or give back and pay it forward. It’s something that everyone can do. When you first start your career you think you don’t have anything you could actually give, but you have to understand that you’re the closest thing to that senior in University. “What good is it to be in a tower by yourself… at the end of the day it’s the small kindnesses in our life that make a difference”.
“Get involved without fear”
Alva is a living example that if you have a passion for something, you need to get involved without fear. Join an organization that helps you affect change. Everyone worries, but if you’re passionate, join something that allows you to express that. Imposter syndrome hits us all- don’t worry about judgment and don’t judge.
The world is so interconnected and now it’s easy to feel like one look at LinkedIn and everyone around you is more successful. But it’s all about how you frame the information overload. Alva talks about how social media, and Instagram specifically, is all about curation and “the life you want to project”. It invites so much FOMO but with a cultivated mindset, it gets easier to traverse.
This is only a part of Alva’s story — which 700 words definitely hasn’t done enough justice. She’s accomplished so much, but knowing her, she still has a few projects up her sleeve.