June 03, 2024
Belen Lopez

She grew up in Modesto, and now Master of Public Administration graduate Belen Lopez wants to make the Central Valley a better place to live.

Although she went to San Francisco State to earn a Bachelor of Arts in Latino/a Studies with a double minor in education and critical social thought, Lopez returned home to pursue her master’s degree.

“I chose to attend Stanislaus State, because I was impressed with its public administration program, and I felt confident it would equip me to be an agent of change in the Central Valley,” Lopez said. “The most powerful thing I learned in my program is how to develop a plan to bring about social change, to uplift and empower citizens to take a direct role in all systems that influence their lives.”

Lopez’s desire to make the community around her better isn’t limited to her future plans.

While pursuing her master’s degree, she served on the ASI Board of Directors, representing graduate students. She also worked on campus as the graduate studies and research coordinator.

“Belen is an excellent team member and is committed to fostering a welcoming community of students at our Hispanic Serving Institution,” said Brooke Nawrocki, a former classmate and an administrative support coordinator in Career Services. “Belen is a dedicated staff member with a kind and motivated personality. I feel grateful to be a part of Belen’s academic and professional journey, and I’m excited to see where she takes her MPA degree.”

In the next part of her professional journey, Lopez plans to utilize her education by forming her own non-profit organization.

“I want to create a non-profit focusing on improving our educational system,” Lopez said. “Its purpose will be to advocate and support legislation that will promote education equity as a form of empowerment.”

By working in education, Belen said, she can advocate for Central Valley-focused policies that are “inclusive, equitable and empowering both in our school systems and communities.”

As she heads toward that goal, Lopez takes with her countless memories of her time at Stan State.

“I tried to take advantage of available resources, make connections and attend campus events,” Lopez said. “I enjoyed going to art shows at the University Art Gallery, attending workshops, celebrations and especially the astronomy nights.

“I credit the Career Center for helping me land my first full-time job in the Office of Graduate and Research Studies. They helped me look over my resume and provided interview preparation. Stanislaus State offers a wide range of opportunities and is a supportive community. There is truly no limit to the experience you can have.”

#StanGrad File


Belen Lopez


Modesto, CA


Master of Public Administration

What memories stand out most from your time at Stanislaus State?

“The memory that stands out most from my time at Stanislaus State is my time serving as the ASI Board of Director for Graduate Students. I enjoyed advocating for my fellow graduate students.”

Which faculty or staff member had the greatest impact on you, and why?

“Dr. Nancy Hudspeth was instrumental in my success in my program. I enjoyed her passion for the subject matter and her constant willingness to assist students.

Additionally, I want to thank Dr. Mary Roaf, whom I met through a grad week workshop she hosted during my first year at Stan State. Her support of me and other BIPOC graduate students was invaluable during my first year when I was considering leaving my master's program.”

What advice would you give to current and future students?

“Take the time to enjoy yourself. It is very easy to get caught up on the next deadline and the next thing on your to-do list. However, it is equally as important to take time to take advantage of the opportunities available to you, make connections and carve out time for the things you love.”

Note: This article is part of the StanGrad series highlighting Stanislaus State students who are part of the Class of 2024. Read more StanGrad profiles.