Student Spotlight on Alex Lopez ’15, political activist and writer

by Kylee Sibilia | 2/21/17 12:00am

Everyone at Dartmouth excels at something, but it is rare to find a student who manages to surpass expectations in countless different fields. While choosing to major in English with a concentration in creative writing, Alex Lopez ’15 has expanded his time at Dartmouth beyond the traditional academic bounds, pursuing coursework and internships in the fields of sustainability, finance, politics and numerous other areas.

After participating in the Great Issues Scholars program as a freshman, Lopez applied the themes of globalization and social justice that he learned at Dartmouth in the real world, pursuing an internship with a sustainability organization in rural Mpumalanga, South Africa as well as studying abroad at the University of Hyderabad in India.

Lopez believes that his international perspective, specifically regarding the current global climate, is integral to his success.

“Especially with everything that’s going on with politics right now,” Lopez said, “having that concept of having lived abroad with people from all kinds of cultures and all types of religions gives you this wonderful respect, tolerance and love for different cultures and different types of people.”

Lopez’s focus on global issues manifested itself once again in the fall of 2014 when the Dickey Center for International Understanding sponsored him to work for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in Rome and again in the summer of 2016, when he worked as the communications coordinator for the Young African Leaders Initiative’s Mandela Washington Fellowship at the Tuck School of Business. Lopez is currently continuing his involvement with the Young African Leaders Initiative by working on a sustainability project in Pailles, Mauritius.

Expanding his time at Dartmouth beyond the traditional four years has given Lopez the chance to pursue countless opportunities to which he might not otherwise have ever been exposed.

Freya Jamison ’17 spoke about Lopez’s ability to set himself apart from his peers at Dartmouth.

“[Lopez] has very much forged his own path,” Jamison said. “He’s taken extra time to graduate because he realized what his passion was partway through Dartmouth, and he decided he didn’t want to just push through with what he had already started. He wanted to really take advantage of his time here.”

Lopez explained how he never felt limited by the constraint of having only four years at the College.

“Pretty much every interest I’ve had that I’ve wanted to explore, I’ve had a chance to explore that through an internship or through a club on campus,” Lopez said.

Despite spending much of his time at Dartmouth away from campus, Lopez has also had a huge impact here in Hanover. This fall, Lopez was the Dartmouth Campus Director for Hillary Clinton’s campaign with the New Hampshire Democratic Party, spending nearly 100 hours each week coordinating volunteers and running election booths. Lopez’s efforts helped New Hampshire to achieve one of the highest voter turnout rates it has seen in years, largely because of a massive push by Dartmouth voters.

Hannah Matheson ’18, who worked with Lopez on The Stonefence Review, a literary magazine at Dartmouth that had fallen out of publication but was revived with Lopez’s assistance, described Lopez’s ability to motivate his peers, a skill that appeared not just through his involvement in the Clinton campaign but also through his other activities on campus.

“Just stuff out of the blue that he thinks would be good for the Dartmouth community, he will do it, and get everyone excited about it,” Matheson said. “His ambition fuels other people to discover their own enthusiasm for something.”

While Lopez has pursued opportunities in countless different areas, he still draws everything back to his singular passion for reading and writing.

“I would look into certain internships and certain experiences as chances to explore different lives and get material for characters and stories, and hopefully one day for my books,” Lopez said.

Lopez has had great success with his writing, having attended the renowned Iowa Writer’s Workshop at the University of Iowa, which exposed him to the work of professional novelists and poets.

Matheson emphasized Lopez’s engagement with the literary world.

“I see him as a cultural connoisseur in that he keeps his finger on the pulse of everything,” Matheson said. “I think he’s read literally all of the archives for The Stonefence Review and The New Yorker that they have in Baker-Berry. He’s totally immersed in the literary world.”

Lopez plans to pursue a career in writing after graduating from Dartmouth in addition to continuing his work to try to make the world a better place.

“My main goal is just to work for an organization or a cause that helps people,” Lopez said.

Just like with his time at Dartmouth, Lopez plans to give each of his passions equal attention in order to create a richer overall experience.

Jamison perfectly summed up Lopez’s striking ability to pursue multiple opportunities.

“He follows his heart and his head at the same time,” Jamison said.