Photos courtesy of Janae Lopez (Top) College Adviser Janae Lopez and alumnus Ives Morales pose at the Panda Restaurant Group headquarters before an interview with the Panda Cares Foundation, discussing the benefits of college advising. In 2019, Lopez graduated from UCLA with a Bachelor’s degree. She majored in sociology and minored in education studies but took a gap year. Since then, she has been in a two-year USC School of Education advising program and will leave her current job in May 2021, like the seniors she has been helping.

Lopez gains inspiration from students, pursues Master’s degree

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One Zoom meeting after the other, College Adviser Janae Lopez spends hours helping students through the stressful rigors of the college application season. Little do they know that after a hectic week of guiding them through their personal statements, Lopez wakes up early on the following Saturday to work on her own. 

Using her experience at the school as a catalyst for her academic goals, Lopez is in the process of applying to the University of Southern California (USC), the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and Azusa Pacific University to pursue her Master’s degree in student affairs.

Lopez enjoys working with the  youth as she understands the inequities that exist in the education system as a first-generation Latina graduate. By offering her support with college applications, personal statements, and financial aid, Lopez fills in those gaps one student at a time.

“As I work to read personal insight questions and provide students with resources, I think about how much I wish I could follow students through their journey in college to make sure that they always have that level of support and encouragement,” Lopez said. “In my experience as a student at UCLA, however, I know that this isn’t usually the case. Because of this, I have decided that I want to work in a college or university to be that person for students.”

Now, after over a year of connecting with students through their post-high school plans, she recognizes her role as a College Adviser to be a pivotal turning point in her career that has influenced her academic journey. 

“You all have inspired me in so many ways,” Lopez said. “If it wasn’t for my role at San Gabriel, I still would not have the courage or conviction to take on this process.”

Like many of the students working toward their college ambitions, Lopez is experiencing the anxiety and self-doubt of submitting applications that will determine the following years of her future, but she remains hopeful. 

“It is scary to hit that submit button and wonder if you will be good enough, but it is rewarding when you get to see it all come together,” Lopez said. “With the UC and California State University deadlines approaching, more and more seniors will feel the same sense of relief that I did when I submitted my USC and UCLA applications. I encourage you all to take on the college process even when you’re scared, and that has given me the confidence to take my own advice.”

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