JC Lopez faces the tasks that many DePauw employees confront every day. But dealing with those duties causes him to relish even more the time he spends engaging with students.
“I come into work, and know I have to read emails and complete a task list,” he says. “And I’m thankful that I have opportunities to do some incredible things at DePauw.
“But one of the things that I enjoy so much is spending time on campus engaging with students – whether it’s a quick hello or a long conversation, or grabbing coffee or dinner. It allows me to be genuine in a way that maybe students don't see in an office environment.”
Lopez, sophomore and senior class dean, as well as a mentor for Chicago Posse 16, has worked in Student Academic Life for 10 years. In the fall, he’ll take on a new position to oversee the first-year experience.
Lopez, who was born in Puerto Rico, was a first-generation college student. His parents wanted him to have experiences that they didn’t have and encouraged him to go to college. So he followed in the footsteps of a high school art teacher and mentor.
Lopez planned to teach art like his mentor, but during his senior year at Edinboro University in Pennsylvania, he changed his mind.
“I was involved in my fraternity as chapter president, a member of IFC (interfraternity council) and an orientation leader,” he says. A practicum at Carnegie Mellon University with fraternity and sorority life “gave me opportunities to think about the areas in higher ed that I was really passionate about.”
After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in applied media arts, Lopez spent a year working for his national fraternity organization while applying to grad schools.
“I was able to travel to different campuses learning about different institutions, and that experience solidified my interest in higher ed,” he says.
After earning a master of arts degree in student affairs in higher education at Slippery Rock University, he accepted a position as first-year residence life coordinator at DePauw.
“I felt at home and at ease here,” he says. “It’s been a great fit. I’m surrounded by incredible people every day who inspire me.”
Lopez says his Posse Scholars have “definitely become like a mini-family to me. They inspire me, and I want to continue to work hard for them.”
Where else does he look for inspiration? “My colleagues. It’s hard not to look around Student Academic Life and not see how hard people are working to support students. They inspire and push me to give as much as I can every day.”
Lopez says the staff is all about collaboration.
“That’s the thing I love the most -- that it’s not just one person who carries the weight of supporting students. We work together to find the best resources and the best support systems to to connect students to support their well-being.
“We have incredible students, and I’m reminded of that daily, seeing them achieve incredible things whether it’s on the athletic field, in academia or finding jobs. “I’m really grateful I get to see the impact that we’ve made in their lives, whether large or small.”