Roman Lopez: Don't Stop Caring
In his life, Roman Lopez has faced a variety of obstacles, sometimes thinking that nothing was really going his way. He admits he sometimes felt like he did not have a future beyond his negative experiences. But he hasn’t let these challenges and struggles deter him, making his way to the University of Oklahoma as a freshman this fall.
After earning valedictorian honors at Capitol Hill High School in Oklahoma City, Okla., he used a large part of his speech to thank his mom and dad for all the sacrifices they had made for him and his siblings, two older brothers and a younger sister. Lopez watched his dad, who did not graduate high school, and his mom work hard to make ends meet. He saw his parents work long hours to make sure their kids had everything they needed, even following their divorce. Seeing this dedication and sacrifice has motivated Lopez, not only throughout his high school career but also into the next chapter of his life at OU.
“It motivates me seeing how they have so little, but they’ll give it all up just to make sure we're okay, even if they needed more for themselves,” Lopez explained. “It makes me want to be successful in my life so I can give back to them.”
Lopez was active in high school, competing in sports like football, powerlifting, track, tennis, and wrestling, participating in student council, serving as a senior class officer, playing the tuba, and being a member of the National Honor Society, among others. He has continued that involvement as a Sooner by attending the AT&T Summer Bridge Program, is a member of the President’s Leadership Class, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, and the sponsorship committee for Latinos Without Borders.
When looking at universities, Lopez was drawn to the aerospace engineering program at OU. He also felt a connection with the faculty and staff members he met and is grateful for the resources available to help him navigate college and succeed.
“Overall I wanted to come to OU after seeing how much time and effort people put into me,” Lopez shared. “It was a really good feeling to know they cared. Coming in as a minority, first-generation student, you sometimes feel like you’re not going to make it, especially when you come from an inner city school, so having that support and resources like free tutoring was important to me.”
In the future, Lopez aims to help students who come from backgrounds like himself and wants them to know that they too can succeed in life. His big goal is to give back to the Southside of Oklahoma City, working to change the perception and stereotypes surrounding the area. He’d also like to open a nonprofit in his home community and wants others to understand that even if they are facing challenges, the only option isn’t to stop caring.
“Try to use whatever you are facing to motivate you to go to college and be successful,” Lopez shared. “I’ve met a lot of people at OU who have had tough experiences and then they're here and they're making it work, and everything I've been through, I'm here and I'm going to make it work whatever it takes. If you really want it, don't just stop caring. You should always care and drive yourself to do the best you can.”