[UTA Magazine]


The superman of students
Ricardo Lopez has honed his leadership skills while maintaining an academic edge

by Jim Patterson

Ricardo Lopez has this affinity for Superman. The walls of his room are painted blue. One sports a giant S.

Even his cellphone voice mail has a man-of-steel quality.
"I'm sorry I couldn't take your call," it says. "I'm out saving the world."


The message is meant to be funny. But sometimes, the senior engineering major puts so much on his shoulders that it feels like he's trying to save the world.

One of the ways is by serving as a team teacher in the Foundations of Leadership class, Education 1130.

"His tenacity, energy and creativity as a peer leadership trainer have assisted other students with their leadership development at UTA," said Susan English, associate director of Student Activities.

Although he calls himself a bookworm, Ricardo Lopez still finds time to take a leadership role in several student organizations on campus.

Lopez received the Emerging Leader Award at the 2002 Leadership Recognition ceremony. When his name was called, he was speechless. "Ask anybody who knows me," he said. "It's hard to get me to shut up. I've never been so surprised in my life."

This fall he's participating in the peer mentor program UTA HOSTS. He asked to mentor two students instead of the usual one. "I want to make sure they know what they're doing," he explained. "They should have somebody there to help them, somebody they can go to so they don't feel lost."

Lopez also is president of the Student Alumni Association, formerly the Student Foundation, an organization dedicated to promoting the Alumni Association and the University to the student body and beyond.

"I could not ask for a more enthusiastic and intelligent student," said Kerri Ressl, UTA Alumni Association assistant director. "He helps make my role as adviser a thousand times simpler because of his initiative, resourcefulness and natural leadership."

great students

Ricardo Lopez received UTA's Emerging Leader Award for 2001-2002 for his dedication as a peer leadership trainer and his work with the Student Alumni Association. His fellow students in the College of Engineering have won first place overall in the international Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Formula race car competition eight times in 18 years. UTA racing teams have won more Formula SAE national competitions than any other school in the nation.

Lopez, an American citizen who is Puerto Rican but was born in Germany, loves the diversity in the SAA. "You get to spend time with people from outside your circle. It has students from many different cultures and many different academic areas."

His own academic area came about almost by chance. Lopez didn't want to be the only one in his orientation group to have an undeclared major, so he picked engineering after remembering that one of his high school teachers told him he would be a good engineer.

So far, the teacher has been prophetic. Lopez has earned mostly A's and B's and plans to pursue a master's degree when he graduates in two years.

"I've always been a bookworm," he said. "I have a thirst for knowledge. I want to learn things, and I enjoy being in a classroom."

An acknowledged "military brat," Lopez lived in Germany twice, Puerto Rico, Georgia twice, Arizona and Washington state before moving to Arlington and graduating from Bowie High School in 1999. "We never did stay in one place," he said, "so I was always meeting new people and getting to know them in a short amount of time."

Now that he's been able to stay in the same location for a while, he's finding it much easier to help the people he meets. Call it his way of saving the world.


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