Maria Loreto Lopez ’16, an art history major from Montebello, California, has benefited from the Communication and Fine Arts Scholarship; the CFA Council Scholarship; and the Sarah Nell Noble Art History Scholarship. She shared this first-hand perspective of how being a scholarship recipient has affected her college experience.
I largely identify with my Hispanic heritage and I especially take pride in my culture. I was raised in Montebello – a predominantly Mexican community – and I am the first generation in my family to attend college in the United States. My parents attended college in Mexico and earned their degrees, but decided to move to the U.S. to provide better opportunities for me and my siblings, even though that meant their degrees would not be valid anymore. Their sacrifice is what influences me to put my best effort in everything I do, especially in my academics. Because I am first-generation Mexican-American I feel a stronger attachment to my Mexican roots and I understand how a connection to heritage can lead to empowerment, confidence, and ultimately success. Because I am not as financially privileged as others, I want to set an example that knowledge can open many doors for the future.
I know that minorities are not always given a voice, and because of that, I like to represent my culture through community service. My most memorable form of community service was when I spent a year volunteering for Jumpstart. Twice a week the team I worked with and I drove from Irvine to Santa Ana to an elementary school in an impoverished, Hispanic community. I worked with a group of preschoolers and volunteered to read to other children in libraries. Watching their literacy and comprehension improve gave me one of the greatest feelings of joy because I knew I was helping to prepare them for their future education, as well as giving them the tools they needed to succeed. I felt connected to the preschoolers because of our shared cultures and knew that I could give back with the knowledge I had so they would be able be able to thrive as a minority and take pride in their identity, rather than feel hindered.
When I transferred from UC Irvine to Loyola Marymount, I knew that I would have a greater financial burden, but I also knew that coming to LMU would provide many more opportunities and a better environment for me. Professors are more accessible and willing to help here at LMU, and the supportive Catholic/Jesuit community present here was one that did not exist at UCI; these two factors played a large role in my decision to transfer. My parents are not contributing any money to help pay for my education and I have had to ask for several loans to be able to attend LMU. Last semester I had the opportunity to live on campus, but it proved to be too much of a financial burden when I owed money to the school that I could not afford to pay and could not register for classes. I am now commuting this semester, and I will not say it has been easy; only now I have realized how exhausting driving can be. To help pay for my education and personal expenses I work as an administrative assistant in the Liberal Studies department and am a Rains Research Assistant for my archaeology professor. Commuting and working are the only ways I am able to attend LMU, but I am willing to endure the struggle because I do not believe that I can find what LMU has to offer at any other university.
I admit that I did not yet know what I wanted to do with an art history major at first – I only knew I was passionate about the subject. After exploring career options, however, I came across the conservation field and I immediately knew it was what I wanted to do in the future. Going to museums, I am always overcome with a desire to touch an object or work of art without restrictions. A saying goes, “A work of art has a more eventful life than the artist itself,” and it is completely true. I admire how art objects have the ability to tell so much about a culture, such as the technology a society used, what that society valued most, and if there were any interactions with neighboring societies. This led to my decision to declare an archaeology minor. LMU’s museum and library, which are rich in artifacts from various cultures, also contributed to my decision. My classes at LMU have been exceptionally interactive with art collections and museums in the Los Angeles area, as I have also had the opportunity to enroll in an art history course taught on campus and at the Getty Center. This course allows me to examine manuscripts up close and analyze how museum spaces work on conveying a message to the public. As a result, I am capable of grasping concepts related to the way ancient and medieval societies lived.
To fulfill my goal of a career in conservation, I am currently taking art history, archaeology, and chemistry classes to have a broad knowledge of the field and an understanding of art and societies in different regions and in different time periods. I work tremendously hard in these classes because academic achievement is so important to me, and last semester I achieved a 3.88 GPA. I plan to continue my education in graduate school because conservation is a competitive field.
The CFA Scholarship has intensified the pride I have for my major, my school, and LMU. It will be a symbol of success of my perseverance in academic achievement throughout my education, and I would feel honored in being able to represent my culture and heritage through this triumph. My parents are extremely proud of me because the scholarship signifies the same hard work and dedication I am placing in achieving my goals that they did in order to achieve their goals and to provide better opportunities for me in the United States. It also relieves a financial burden off of my shoulders. It is an achievement and honor I will hold with throughout my time here at LMU and even after I graduate.
My time at LMU so far has been amazing because of the excellent academic resources available to me and because of the support and care I find in interactions with other students, faculty and staff. I know that with the wide variety of classes and resources offered here I can achieve my goal of becoming a conservator