First-Gen Day of Celebration Alumni Spotlight: Lisette Lopez ’21

Name: Lisette López
Denison Class Year: 2021
Current Role: Orr Fellow, Indiana University Health

Tell us a little bit about your current role:
As an Orr fellow, I am doing a rotational job program with IUH. Every 8 months, I rotate to a new department and gain a new role. My first rotation was with the Government Affairs team where I worked on Community Impact Investment and Policy Development. I was able to manage a year-long grant process alongside directors. In addition, I attended hearings at the Indiana State House to ensure that the hospital was informed on important changes and that it advocated for its patients. My next rotation was with the Community Health and Operations team where I developed and supported a system wide Diverse Community Stakeholder Engagement Task Force/Council and led the implementation of a coordinated community engagement strategy across the system. I also supported several clinical outreach and engagement events. My next rotation will be with the Health Equity team which focuses on providing equitable access and quality of care to those who have been historically excluded and underserved.

What was your student experience at Denison like?
I grew up in a low-income community of Chicago and attended public school my entire life. Thanks to the Posse Scholarship, I was able to afford to go to Denison, a private university. I definitely experienced culture shock and imposter syndrome. However, by the time I graduated I felt confident in myself and appreciative of all the opportunities Denison University gave me as well as the doors it opened for me. In addition, my involvement in the First-Generation Network and La Fuerza Latina made me feel more at home and empowered. I had a lot of great professors that both challenged me and supported me. My favorite classes were with Dr. Pool, Dr. Powell Sears, and Dr. Sheikholeslami – the best professors I’ve had who I am so grateful for! The Knowlton Center was also extremely helpful to me as a first-generation student. I worked there at the front desk and as a peer coach for all my 4 years of undergrad. Through the Knowlton Center I was also able to intern abroad in Chile after being accepted into their Global Internship Program. In 2021, I graduated with a double major in Political Science and Anthropology/Sociology. As I look back at my student experience, I am glad I chose Denison University. Although I struggled, my experience helped grow and provided me with resources that have impacted my current professional and personal life for the better. I was not planning on being in the healthcare industry but thanks to my liberal arts degree I am able to apply my knowledge in various roles at the nonprofit healthcare system I currently work in. I plan to go to law school and eventually focus my career on education reform or immigration reform.

What is one piece of advice you received (or WISH you would have received) as a first-gen student?
Don’t be scared to take up space in a PWI. Be loud, get involved, make connections, and ask questions. Do not minimize yourself to make others comfortable. You deserve an education just like everyone else. Find mentors that understand your reality and support you. Also, USE ALL THE RESOURCES! Denison has so much to offer. Make an effort to look for opportunities. The Knowlton Center and the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs are great places to explore. Apply for the summer internship stipend. The Global Internship Program is a great alternative to studying abroad since that can get expensive. Also, many times, first-generation students are in survival mode – do not forget to have fun and pat yourself on the back. Celebrate your achievements!

Check out Lisette’s LinkedIn page to connect!

Lisette López ’21
By Anneke Mason
Anneke Mason Senior Associate Director