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Aco Alvarez ’99Saint Thomas Aquinas once wrote “To love is to will the good of the other.” It was this famed philosopher, along with Aristotle and Kant, who most influenced Aco Alvarez ’99. As the founder of one of the fastest growing firms in Silicon Valley, the Mice Groups, Alvarez made a charitable gift of $20,000 to the Integral Program in 2014.

“The Integral Program teaches you to think. It gives you a tremendous platform for success—everything from medicine to law, to music,” said Alvarez. He said the program also taught him how to listen to people in his business of recruiting and corporate placement.

The donation is earmarked for scholarship aid to high school students who are invited to attend SMC’s Integral Summer Institute before their senior year.

“It gives us national reach and an opportunity to show students what four years of study in Integral might feel and look like,” said Steve Cortright, director of the Integral Program. The Institute attracts students from as far away as Tennessee and Nevada, and gives them a sample of what Alvarez experienced when he was at SMC, he said.

“He understands the kind of program we are,” Cortright said, noting that the idea of reading 110 great books and five times that many auxiliary and helping texts “sounds stranger and stranger to high school ears.” Cortright called the Summer Institute one of the ways they’re trying to stay in touch with contemporary high school students.

“We were able to bring five students this last summer who we weren’t otherwise able to bring. We expect to continue to be relatively generous for the next few years,” he said.

For his part, Alvarez is humbled and happy to give back to his alma mater. “I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Integral. I loved it so much I was looking for graduate programs that were somewhat similar. My own personal belief is it’s what an education should be.”

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