Defining experiences, at home and abroad
In August 2012, Luis Lopez, ’09, received an email asking if he was interested in applying to be a fellow with the Obama campaign and within a few short weeks, he was working long hours to propel the President’s reelection efforts.
By September 8, the Obama campaign promoted him to one of five Deputy Regional Field Directors for Region 5. This region includes Pasadena, Calif. and the surrounding areas all the way down to San Diego. Lopez was one of two directors working out of Pasadena. Lopez had always wanted to work on a political campaign, but never took the opportunity until after he graduated with his master’s degree.
Raised in Los Angeles, Calf., Lopez was recruited to Whitworth by his high school friend Alyson Tucker,’07. Lopez graduated from Whitworth with a degree in political science. He was involved in ASWU, the Whitworthian, the Natsihi, theatre, radio, and providing campus tours to prospective students. Lopez is also very thankful to have had the opportunity to study abroad in England, Scotland, and China during his four years at Whitworth and notes professors Dale Soden, Julia Stronks, John Yoder, and Patrick Van Inwegen all as being influential during his undergraduate days.
In July 2011, Lopez began his studies at Syracuse University’s television, radio, and film master’s program. As part of his program, Lopez was required to have an internship, so after graduation from Syracuse in June 2012, he traveled across the world to Mumbai, India.
“All of my classmates looked at internships either in L.A. or somewhere on the East Coast. I wanted a unique experience, so I sought out programs that took place abroad,” Lopez says. “Once I found out about the India internship program, I knew I had to take the opportunity.”
Lopez’ internship in India was a particular highlight. As an intern in the television industry, Lopez worked on a show called Coke Studio @MTV and transcribed episodes of a makeover show to help translate the show into other languages. Lopez notes that “the most beneficial aspect of the internship was observing and seeing how an Indian television show operated.”
Upon returning to the United States in July, he hunted for a job until he received a position with the Obama campaign. As a fellow with the campaign, Lopez had certain goals to meet each week like meeting a quota of hours making phone calls. Then, as the Deputy Regional Field Director, he primarily trained others on the campaign and contacted locals in the Pasadena area to ask them to volunteer.
“The most rewarding aspect of the job was working with the volunteers that would come into our office,” Lopez says. “It just blew me away to see people so dedicated to a cause!”
Other high points of the job included meeting a number of celebrities and being introduced to senior advisor to the president, Valerie Jarrett. Lopez was also present at a fundraiser in Los Angeles where there were appearances by President Obama himself, Stevie Wonder, Bon Jovi, Jennifer Hudson, and Earth, Wind, and Fire, among other celebrities.
On the other end of the spectrum, working an average of 12 hours each day, seven days per week, was simply exhausting for Lopez and others on the campaign. It was the first time that he had a job that demanded so much time. Now that the election is over, Lopez is glad that the long hours of making phone calls are over. “We did what we set out to do,” he says, “which was to re-elect the President.”
Lopez is not sure what is next for him, but hopes to go back to school soon to earn his PhD and then teach at the college level.