Justis Lopez of Manchester has been chosen as the Alma Exley Scholar for 2015. The scholarship encourages and supports persons of color in Connecticut who are pursuing careers in public school teaching.
Lopez, a graduate of Manchester High School, is a graduate of the five-year Integrated Bachelor’s and Master’s Program in the Neag School of Education at UConn. He received a B.S. in education with a major in history and an M.A. in education. He has just accepted a teaching job at his high school alma mater.
The Alma Exley Scholarship program honors the work of Alma Exley who was a dedicated educator, and worked at the Connecticut Department of Education to bring more people of color into the teaching profession. Since her death in 1995, the Alma Exley Scholarship Program has been carrying on her work.
Lopez was selected based on his outstanding record of academic achievement, public service and campus leadership. As a freshman at UConn, he received the Emerging Leader Student Life Award. This recognized his leadership in programs to orient and support new students. He has been active in a summer program sponsored by Student Support Services to assist low-income, minority students who are the first in their families to attend college.
Lopez has lent his considerable talents to a variety of initiatives to promote diversity and multicultural understanding at UConn and elsewhere.
He was one of 14 students chosen to take the lead in fostering an inclusive community at the university. And he has worked in an inter-university initiative with the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) to broaden the demographic makeup of the teacher workforce.
He has been involved in the K-5 College Bound Program, which brings youngsters to UConn to give them a taste of college life and encourage them to aspire to higher education.
He has been active in other campus organizations such as Bring Awareness to Latino Ethnicities (BALE), the Puerto Rican and Latino Cultural Center, and Leadership in Diversity (LID), intended to “put the lid on the achievement gap.”
During the summer of 2013, he served as an intern at the University of Albany. Working in the Office of Intercultural Student Engagement, he implemented the Brother 2 Brother mentorship program for incoming freshmen. He also built the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center to cultivate an inclusive community for LGBTQ students.
In the summer of 2014, he served as a public policy intern in Washington D.C with the Council For Opportunity In Education. In that position he worked with educational advocacy groups in the U.S. Department of Education in conjunction with the White House and drafted proposals for educational programs to be considered by Congress in 2015.
He was a familiar figure at UConn sports events performing as Jonathan the Husky as a sophomore. He was named the UConn Homecoming King in 2014.
He also has made a name for himself as master of ceremonies and DJ for more than 300 social events. Based on this experience, he has established Justis League Entertainment, which provides music and photography for school functions, weddings and business events.
He won a TEDx Student Speaker Award in 2013. He was one of a number of college students participating a program patterned after the well-known TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) events.
For more information on Alma Exley Scholars, please visit: www.almaexleyscholarship.org