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Name: Miguel Lopez

Hometown: Oxnard, CA

Current City: Washington, D.C.

Current Job: CHCI Policy and Research Manager

CHCI Program: 2010-11 CHCI Higher Education Graduate Fellow

1. What have you been doing since you finished the CHCI program(s)?

Since finishing the Graduate Fellowship Program, I made a seamless transition to my new role at CHCI as the new Policy and Research Manager. As such, I will be working closely with the V.P. of Programs to develop, manage, and report on all aspects of CHCI’s policy and research initiatives.

2. What impact did your CHCI experience have on your career and development as a leader?

Tremendous. Even though our fellowship was only nine-months, it seems like it gave me years on my career and development as a leader. I had the opportunity to work with the dedicated team at the White House Initiative and leaders at Department of Education. For my second placement, I was presented an offer to lead efforts on the CHCI Board resolution to increase educational attainment level of Latinos in the United States. This led to our inaugural Keeping the Promise: Partnerships for Latino Educational Success education forum launched by CHCI in April 2011, in conjunction with, Excelencia in Education, NALEO, and Univision to address challenges and promising practices for improving Latino educational outcomes. My CHCI experience helped me to envision and bring together leading education experts, advocates, local elected officials, and practitioners—all with a critical role to play to increase Latino education success. The forum met its objective and examined the unique education challenges facing young Latinos, defined the barriers to higher education attainment, and discussed promising practices for addressing these. My CHCI experience helped facilitate key partnerships which have helped yield success to our efforts. I will be working with CHCI in the coming year and leading efforts to expand the conversation beyond the education community and further discuss the roles of other important stakeholders, including philanthropic foundations, corporate America, small businesses, media and entertainment, among others—all who will be critical in increasing Latino college completion rates and working to achieve the 60 percent national college completion goal.

3. How have you stayed engaged in community service?

I have made an effort to reconnect and help those back home. The next generation is not far behind us, and I have focused efforts to help our youth and young adults navigate both the college and graduate school process. We need to continue to strengthen the pipeline and need to continue to open doors of opportunities and bring others up with us every step of the way.

4. What advice would you give current and future CHCI participants?

All you can do is your best at everything that you do. With every task or project you are given or assigned—big or small—you never know who is watching or will see your final product—and what personal and professional opportunities might come as a result. Take pride in your work, and the final product will speak for itself.

5. What do you think is the most ample concern or obstacle for Latino/as today in higher education?

In today’s economy, I would say the increasing cost associated with attending, persisting, and ultimately completing their higher education. You see many states slashing support to colleges and universities, and as a result, institutions of higher education are forced to off-set such cost with corresponding raises to student fees and tuition increases. With the myriad of other factors serving as obstacles, the rising cost associated with attending is only compounding the problem of completion for all students, but especially out Latina/os in higher education today.

6. Where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years?

I am not certain what path my life will take and what opportunities may come my way, because you never know who is watching you. However, I am reminded of the oft quote, “of whom much is given, much is expected,” and in that same spirit, I know that I see myself working to empower people and communities, and working to improve the lives and opportunities of people in this country and around the world.