Montserrat Lopez

College Ten '21, Latin American and Latino studies and Spanish studies

Montserrat Lopez (College Ten '21, Latin American and Latino studies and Spanish studies)
Montserrat Lopez (College Ten '21, Latin American and Latino studies and Spanish studies)

Montserrat Lopez dedicated her college career to art, outreach, activism, and giving back to the communities that have sustained her. 

With her far-ranging goals and ambitious course of study, Lopez had not a minute to lose when she transferred to UC Santa Cruz as a junior last year. She had so much she wished to accomplish, and so little time. 

To make the most of her schedule, she made an appointment with a Latin American and Latino studies (LALS) adviser to put together an academic plan to make sure she met all her goals and requirements. 

But in spite of her rigorous studies and full days, Lopez made time to become an LALS peer adviser, helping other students face the challenges of academic life. 

"Outreach is very important to me, especially as a first-generation student," she said. "It brings me a lot of joy to work with other students, help them achieve their goals, and answer their questions and concerns."

Lopez also interned for the Research Center for the Americas' Human Rights Investigation Lab, a campus initiative investigating human rights issues using open-source investigative tools. In addition, she co-hosted a community arts night for her fellow undergraduates. 

"I love creating art and wanted to create space for other artists to join the community and create together," Lopez said.

One of her artworks was published in the student-run art magazine TWANAS, and showcased in a campus festival dedicated to art and solidarity. 

Aside from these academic and artistic pursuits, Lopez delved into an independent research project, exploring the history of "La Lotería," a popular Mexican game of chance with European roots, and with a strong artistic component, with elaborate and colorful images on the cards. 

Aside from her extremely busy schedule, Lopez faced a complication she never could have predicted: "It's a bummer that I was only at UC Santa Cruz six months before the pandemic happened, and I came back home." 

Lopez completed her coursework via Zoom at her parents' house in her hometown of Pittsburg, Calif. 

But now that she is about to graduate, she is already looking forward to the next step. She hopes to continue her work as a digital investigator for human rights with a strong focus on Latin America as well as Latinos in the United States. 

She also wants to further her education, and perhaps teach Spanish literature to community college students. It's all about building on the skills she learned and used at UC Santa Cruz, while embracing new opportunities to give back and pay it forward.