Student Story - Julio Lopez

Julio LopezHi there! My name is Julio Lopez I recently graduated from Chicago State University (CSU) with my Masters in Social Work in May 2020. I also hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from CSU. I have a passion for Chicago State University because this institution has helped me grow and develop in many ways. I feel it is very important for students like myself to share our story so other students can have someone to relate to when thinking about furthering your education

During my four years of my undergraduate studies, I was able to make a ton of lifelong friends, participate in the CSU State Police internship, and get involved with student organizations from the Latino Resource Center such as the Organization for Latin American Students (OLAS), Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement (HACE), the Dreamers Club, and Sigma Lambda Beta International Fraternity Incorporated. Because of my involvement I was awarded a few awards such as the “Executive Leadership” award by the Hispanic Alliance for Career enhancement, the “Orgullo Latino Academic Excellence” award by the Latino Resource Center and during my graduate studies I was awarded the “Best Graduate Student” by the office of Student Activities. I highly recommend becoming involved in at least one student organization. It made my experience more memorable and worthwhile. It also helps build connections on and off campus that can further benefit you throughout your academic and professional career.

Julio LopezAfter I graduated with my bachelors, I decided I wanted to pursue a graduate degree in social work. Since CSU had the program available, I applied and was accepted into the Masters in Social Work (MSW) program! Throughout those two years I was able to participate in a school social work internship during my advanced year, I was able to get accepted to participate in an advanced field placement at Jesse Brown VA Hospital! I was able to help veterans in both the inpatient psychiatry and the inpatient medicine units. I finished the MSW program in Spring 2020.

As a parent of a young boy, it can definitely be challenging to pursue an education while trying to make effective and meaningful time for your child. I think the hardest part of my MSW program was being able to make time for my internships, for work, for a full time grad school schedule, homework, and for my son. There were some occasions that I felt that I was missing out on his life because of all the time that the program demanded from me. However, I was quick to remind myself that pursuing an education was not only about me, but about being able to provide more for my son and to set an example of what can be accomplished through perseverance. I made sure to cross the stage with him to familiarize him with what success feels like and have him look forward to his own graduations! 

Julio Lopez

Growing up in Gage Park, I was quite unfamiliar with the South Side of Chicago. After attending Chicago State University for six consecutive years, I can honestly say I became a lot more culturally aware, both of my city and the population. After finishing my MSW program, while cultural competency is an important factor in the social work profession, a fellow student of mine said that the Chicago State MSW Program taught cultural humility. I couldn't agree more. That humility is something I wish to maintain throughout my journey in life as I aspire to become a licensed clinical social worker within the Department of Veterans Affairs.

As for my journey at Chicago State, the closest friends and most meaningful connections I made took place in the Latino Resource Center, where I looked forward to hanging out, eating, studying, or even nap! The faculty and staff and CSU were a big part of my academic career. The campus was very welcoming and everyone was always willing to help me. I am proud of being a two-time Chicago State University graduate and look forward to being able to see fellow alumni in the professional world.

I truly hope you can have a successful and meaningful experience like I did and I hope it becomes your home away from home like it was for me. Remember, your adversities don’t define you, they help shape you into the person you are today, tomorrow, and the rest of your life.

Please see below for some of the resources I used while at Chicago State University.

Veterans Resource Center

Latino Resource Center