Graduating otter Amaris “Reese,” Lopez received the Alumni Vision Award on May 2. She was recognized for her dedication to embodying the California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) vision statement.
Lopez is a first-generation LGBTQ+ Latinx student born and raised in Tijuana, Mexico. Her family eventually migrated to the states when she was 13, landing in San Diego.
Affordable tuition and the ocean were attractive qualities that brought Lopez to the institution. Her father’s wise words influenced her final decision; the farther you are from what you know, the more you grow as a person.
Lopez embarked on her CSUMB experience as a molecular biology major, but her love for culture and languages led her in a different direction.
From a Costa Rica expedition to visiting her best friend in Japan, she realized that it was time for a change, to align her studies with her true passion.
Lopez wanted a challenge and selected Japanese as her major because of her preexisting fluency in Spanish.
A group called The Melting Pot, a community of international students that helped Lopez embrace her identity and find herself, a band of students from various backgrounds.
Lopez is proud of her accomplishments in involvement, bringing the campus together, giving back to the school, and enhancing the social environment. She’s driven to provide for others.
“I’ve been able to connect people,” Lopez said. “Not only faculty with students but creating events as a residential advisor.”
Lopez collaborated with Student Housing and Residential Life, Pride Club, and TRIO Student Support Services (SSS) to create an event that celebrated LGBTQ+ acceptance.
Adversity never interrupted Lopez’s mission; she’s her harshest critic, and finding her humanity hasn’t been easy, embracing that even the most impactful leaders make mistakes.
Promoting equity and diversity has been the focus of Lopez’s work, appreciating that everyone has a unique voice to be heard to establish a space where people can be themselves.
Lopez’s favorite aspect of the CSUMB system is its focus on exposing people to the unknown, combining personal and academic ventures, and learning to overcome challenges from within and outside the classroom.
Professor and World Languages and Cultures Department Chair Shigeko Sekine has been a mother to Lopez. She’ll carry that connection forever, reminding her that every obstacle holds a solution and that overcoming difficult situations is part of the learning process.
Lopez will always remind CSUMB students that navigating rough waters is part of being an otter; start building your raft and take advantage of what this community offers.