Syracuse University Magazine

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Carla Lopez

Global Interests

One of the first liberal arts courses Carla Lopez ’13 took at Syracuse University featured a photo of Istanbul’s magnificent Hagia Sophia—once a mosque, then a cathedral, now a national museum. Lopez was awestruck by the remarkable beauty and majesty of the structure. The colossal edifice was an even more breathtaking sight when she stood gazing up at its massive, ornate dome during an SU Study Abroad trip to Turkey. “I could not believe I was there,” she says. “It was such a magical moment—a dream come true.”

A dream realized could also describe Lopez’s life at Syracuse University as an international relations and political science major in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. A native of Honduras, Lopez, now 20, arrived in the United States when she was 12 years old, speaking little English. Fluent in Spanish and the Black Carib language Garifuna, she attended bilingual schools in the Bronx, where all of the courses were taught in English. Her high school teachers recommended she include Syracuse University on her list of potential colleges, and a visit to the SU campus for a multicultural weekend quickly made up her mind. “I love the diversity here,” she says. “There are so many international students, and I am interested in learning about other cultures.”

The high quality of SU courses was another reason why Lopez decided to come to Syracuse. “I think of education as the key that will open the doors I wish to open in the future,” she says. “Education will never leave me, which is why I seek it. I have to get educated, so I can give my mom, who works as a home attendant, a better life.”

Living on campus, away from her close-knit family and neighborhood for the first time, has given Lopez the opportunity to explore her own personality. “It was here that I got a chance to know who I am,” she says. “I was finally alone to start defining myself. I found out I’m a hard worker who can be a perfectionist to the point of being too demanding of myself.” 

Energetic and driven, Lopez is involved in a number of extracurricular activities, serving as vice president of the South Campus Organization for Programming Excellence, and as a global ambassador for SU Abroad. She was a member of the Maxwell School’s 2012 National Model United Nations team, representing Gabon at a week-long conference during which more than 5,100 students from around the world competed to take top honors. This year, for the first time, the SU team received the first-place award as the outstanding delegation. Lopez was chosen as the team’s most enthusiastic member.

An adaptable and seasoned traveler, Lopez will visit China, which has begun strengthening ties with African nations. She plans to learn more about this nascent relationship and to understand its impact on world politics. Eventually, she hopes to earn a doctorate in Pan-African studies with the goal of working for the United Nations or the African union. “In Honduras, I dreamed of becoming a medical doctor,” she says. “Now I want to work to unify the African countries. I want to go there, live there, and be part of the group that continues to help transition the African continent into becoming united and influential in international relations.” —Paula Meseroll