Ben Alvarez, a 22-year-old Quincy resident, graduated from Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology in Boston May 14 with an associate degree in computer technology and two major intertwined goals for his future: making a lot of money and taking care of his older, autistic brother.
“When my parents pass, I plan on getting a nice house for him to share, to have his space,” Alvarez said of his brother, Mauricio, 25. “I will be the ultimate caregiver for him, so I have to be ready to take on that responsibility. There are a lot of expectations riding on me being able to have a high-paying job.”
Alvarez, a first-generation American born to Chilean immigrant parents, is the first of his family to attain a degree, and was the institute’s student graduation speaker. He plans to attend college out of state to get his bachelor’s degree.
“I went to UMass Boston for two years, before transferring to Benjamin Franklin, but it wasn’t a good fit,” he said, adding that at UMass “I felt like a number, among something like 15,000 students. Benjamin Franklin has upwards of 400, and what I liked about it, you could always get in touch with your professors, by phone or e-mail, even if they were on vacation.”
He also worked with Plum Choice, one of the college’s industry partners, providing computer technical support on campus. He sees his career goal in drone operations, calling the coming of drones “the next big thing.”
“I’ve read in many places that drone operators, and not even those in government, can make six figures a year, easily. Not only can you have fun, you can make good money at it,” he said.
Five years ago, he and Mauricio did a program together with Weymouth-based South Shore Support Services, which works with people with special needs. It was then that he realized “having an autistic brother is a lifetime thing,” he said.
“They don’t grow up and move out on their own,” he said. “My parents are there now, but ultimately that responsibility will fall to me.
“I’ve got big dreams,” he said, “which include my brother.”Paul E. Kandarian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.