Incoming First-Year Student Melanie Lopez Has Great Hopes for Her Future

By Jeanne Leong

Melanie Lopez can’t remember a time when she wasn’t connected to Rutgers University–Camden, so attending the university was the natural next step for her after high school.

An incoming first-year undergraduate student, Lopez graduated in June from the LEAP Academy University Charter School in Camden. A star student, Lopez had taken classes at Rutgers–Camden through the Rutgers Community Leadership Center’s dual-enrollment program.

“I call Rutgers–Camden my second home,” says Lopez, of Pennsauken.

After taking three courses at Rutgers–Camden in her junior year, as well as one class at Rowan University, Lopez has earned 12 college credits even before she arrives on campus.

Lopez’s thirst for learning began at a very young age. She was a high-achieving student throughout her 12 years at LEAP Academy, and was so advanced that she skipped the eighth grade and went from seventh grade to ninth grade.

As she was excelling in the classroom in high school, Lopez also participated in many extracurricular activities. She was a member of student government, on the cheerleading team, and worked on the yearbook. She was involved in the Rotary Club, and volunteered at Cooper Hospital. She found time to play the violin in the Symphony in C Youth Orchestra, and the Musicopia Philadelphia Youth Orchestra.

“These experiences all required some sort of team work and this helped me shape my ability to work with others and be able to learn from everyone’s ideas,” Lopez explains. “They also taught me discipline and responsibility.”

In Lopez’s senior year, she participated in the Junior Urban Medical Pioneers program at Cooper Medical School of Rowan University. The program provided students considering a career in medicine with lessons in health sciences from doctors, nurses, medical students, and other health care professionals. Lopez plans to major in biology, and hopes to attend medical school after graduating from Rutgers–Camden. Her goal is to become a doctor in a hospital emergency department.

“It’s exciting in an emergency room,” says Lopez. “Working in an emergency room is something different all the time.”

Now, Lopez is preparing for the start of her first full semester on campus. She was accepted at 14 other schools, including Howard University, Rutgers University–Newark, and Spelman College, but she chose Rutgers–Camden.

“I have grown to love the community on campus,” says Lopez. “I hope that my college education will teach me grit and determination. I expect that my college education will give me a greater support system than I already have.”

Both of her parents, Danielle CCAS’14 and Tony SBC’05, are Rutgers–Camden alumni. Her brother Marco is a rising senior at the Rutgers School of Engineering in Piscataway. Lopez’s mother, Danielle, formerly worked at the Rutgers–Camden Community Leadership Center. During visits to her mom’s office while working at the Rutgers-Camden Admissions Office, Lopez met faculty and staff who became like family to her, and encouraged and helped guide her from the time she was a child through high school.

“From a young age I understood that college was imperative to living a more successful life than if you were not to attend college,” says Lopez. “Through my mother’s associations and my own interactions, I found Rutgers to be a diverse, caring, and supportive environment.”

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