Washington's Alvarez Making A Difference On The Course, In The Community
By Maiah Hollander
UW senior golfer Anya Alvarez has been on many courses in her career, but the one that has been the most influential is her course to advocate for the end of teen relationship violence.
Alvarez is a great golfer, and is currently ranked No. 38 in the country. She holds the Washington record for the lowest three-round total after shooting a 203 at the Las Vegas Showdown. And in that same tournament, she shot a 66 in the second round, which is tied for the second best single-round score in UW history.
But Alvarez has another side, one that has reached out to thousands of girls and women across the country.
"I was raped when I was 16, and also when I was 18, right before I came to college," said Alvarez. "I feel like it's really important, especially if you have any type of platform or issue that you believe in, you speak from it."
This traumatic event, rather than devastating her life, gave Alvarez the inspiration to use it as a way to spread information and hope to others throughout the nation that have experienced similar abuse. Alvarez has gone all over the country speaking for those who were in abusive relationships or had been sexually assaulted.
Her father Alex Alvarez initially had some concerns about Anya losing her privacy with such personal information out in the public sphere.
"It's not that I was against it," said Alex. "I just wanted to be sure that the private things, the details, stayed private."
But after watching her in action, Alex felt more assured of Alvarez's decision.
"Once I saw how she handled a couple of her speeches that she gave, it gave me peace of mind," said Alex. "I was proud that she was trying to help others."
Now focusing on writing about her experiences and reaching out to others, Alvarez writes for two online publications.
"The hardest thing for me to deal with was meeting young girls who were in really abusive relationships or had been abused and feeling like I couldn't help them," said Alvarez. "I feel like if I really want to help somebody and I can't, I really carry that with me. That's why I write, so I can still do public speaking but at a more healthy level for me."
Alvarez currently writes for Sexreally.com, a non-profit that raises awareness about teen pregnancies and teen relationships. The other is Twodaymag.com, which focuses on women's health issues and relationships, as well as women's rights and equality.
"I've been really fortunate to have this opportunity to either help people, or give a different perspective on certain issues," said Alvarez.
Her articles provide a connection for those who have survived sexual abuse in their relationships, and a hopeful message about the future.
"While I can't deny that sexual abuse is a terrible and traumatic thing, 'victim' is the last thing we should use as a label when describing sexual abuse survivors," Alvarez wrote in a Twodaymag.com article. "Yes, survivors. Why? Because we are not dead. Our lives are not destroyed."
What had been a simple letter to television's Dr. Phil about the lack of segments on teen relationship violence, led the program to ask her to come on the show as an advocate. This, in turn, led to several appearances on other networks including "The Early Show" on CBS and even a nomination to appear in "Seventeen" magazine.
From TV appearances to online publications, Alvarez has made it her mission to bring hope and empowerment to survivors of sexual abuse for over two years.
"It got easier. For me it was therapeutic in certain ways to be able to talk about it more," said Alvarez. "It was really important for me to let other teens know that they aren't alone in this."
After graduating after winter quarter this year, Alvarez now spends an average of six hours a day practicing. From her driver to her pitching wedge, Alvarez is working to be at the top of her game.
Washington head women's golf coach Mary Lou Mulflur has always believed in Alvarez's power to achieve what she strives for.
"She's extremely talented, and she plays very fearless golf," Mulflur said in an interview with the UW Daily. "She is very determined, and when she uses that determination to her advantage, she can be very, very strong."
One can see from Alvarez's past that this determination wasn't just present in her golf game.
In her decision to come to the University of Washington, Alvarez wanted to be sure that her choice didn't just reflect a good golf program, but one that had a great academic standard as well. While she ended up graduating with a History major, Alvarez claimed she originally wanted to major in journalism.
"I didn't like my high school paper because they made me cover stupid things, like the pumpkin patch," said Alvarez. "So I made my own newspaper, and it was pretty successful."
Alvarez has used this determination to overcome every obstacle in her way, be it in school, her personal life, or golf.
However, when comparing her writing and advocacy vocation with her active golf career, Alvarez gave a very down to earth assessment of her current situation.
"I love golf," said Alvarez. "But sometimes I think when you're really involved in a sport, you kind of forget that there's other stuff going on in the world and it's easy to lose track of things that are important,"
For Alvarez, the most important thing is the future, and the opportunities it holds.
"One of the things I like to tell girls is, you don't have to be a victim of your past," said Alvarez. "You can choose whether or not you're going to let your past dictate how you live your life."