Salvador Garcia Lopez is an Earth Science major with a minor in Biology. He is from Portland, Ore. As a 2020 graduate, we interviewed Lopez on his favorite experiences from WOU and his plans for after graduation.
Where did you transfer from and what has the experience been like?
In the fall of 2017, I transferred from Portland Community College to WOU. The transition was a big change of lifestyle from being a commuter student in a city to living on campus in a small town. Living in the residence halls my first year definitely eased the transition and helped me make friends and get involved.
Are you a first-generation student? What has your experience been like?
As a first-generation college student, navigating college has been a challenge since day one. The imposter syndrome of feeling like I didn’t belong at a university is something that I am still working on to this day. If it wasn’t for the Student Enrichment Program who believed in me, supported, and guided me throughout my time here at WOU, I honestly don’t know where I would be today.
What has been your favorite annual event at WOU?
For the past three years, I attended the Holiday Tree Lighting with my hallmates from my first year at WOU. We had our little tradition to gather below the Giant Sequoia and take a group picture before the parade started. What made the event memorable was never the parade or the lighting of the tree, but the people that I attended every year with.
What have some of your extracurriculars been? How did those impact your time on campus?
When I came to WOU, I knew I wanted to be involved and make a change at the university. Throughout my time here, I have been a part of Ackerman Hall Government, Student Activities Board, Conversation Partners Program, Upward Bound, Men’s Rugby Club, Peer Mentor Program, Summer Bridge, Natural Science Club, Intramural Volleyball, Incidental Fee Committee, Homecoming Wolf Royalty, and WOU Ambassadors. By being involved in these clubs, committees, and jobs, I have been met by mentors, best friends, and roommates. While making a change at the university, the university ended up making a change in me by helping me grow into the leader I am today. Thanks WOU!
Do you have any advice for current and prospective students?
Take risks! Apply for that competitive internship, job, or scholarship. Run for that elected position in your club. Sign up for that class that you’ve heard is hard. Ask that special person that you like out for dinner. College is a time for taking risks, failing, learning, and growing. It’s better knowing that you took that chance and put yourself out there than living with the regret of never knowing what could have happened.
What was your most visited spot on campus?
I spent so much time in the Natural Science Building that my roommates and I started calling it my second home because I would be there on some days from eight in the morning until three in the morning of the next day, working on assignments, attending classes, meeting with my advisors, and studying. Most of my classes took place there, so I felt really comfortable in the NS building. My earth science and biology advisors were both in that building, so when signing up [for] classes came, I could just go upstairs or downstairs in between classes to talk to them.
What do you love most about the program you completed?
The hands-on experience of my major–I studied Earth Science, which consisted of field trips where we were physically able to see what we were learning. These field trips helped apply everything that I was learning in class to the real world; we were able to see landslide areas in the southern Willamette Valley and the bedform profiles at the coast.
What are your plans for after graduation?
In the fall, I will be moving down to Philadelphia to be an Americorp member, where I will be working with high school students by helping them apply for colleges and scholarships. I eventually want to go back to school to get a master’s degree to become a middle/high school science teacher; but first, I need a break from school.