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SXU Junior Earns Outstanding Elementary Education Student Award


Saint Xavier University (SXU) student Natalia Lopez has received the College of Liberal Arts and Education's Outstanding Elementary Education Student Award.  

Lopez, who also has an English as a second language minor, was incredibly excited about the designation.  

"I was really shocked when I was awarded! I am extremely honored to have received this award and grateful for wonderful professors who have helped me grow academically and professionally. The teachers I have observed in elementary classrooms have also given me teaching inspiration, and I look forward to creating a positive and welcoming environment for my own students," Lopez said.  

Lopez was selected based on multiple academic achievements. At the end of her freshman year, she received the Golden Apple Scholarship, a program for inspiring educators who are committed to teach at a high-needs school for five years. Within the program, Lopez was exposed to summer teaching opportunities and got to attend summer institutes and connect with other aspiring educators, network with mentors, and participate in an early student-teaching experience at a high-needs school.  

Lopez chose to study education because she wanted to make an impact on students like her teachers made on her.   

"Growing up, I have had teachers that changed my life academically and personally. One of the teachers I looked up to was my high school gym teacher, who I had for four years. Not only did I learn how to have a healthy lifestyle, but she would always give her students inspiration to start off the week by meditating. She would check up on her students and ask how life outside of school was and always believed that we could do great things in the world, which is something I want to give to my future students," said Lopez.  

Lopez believes the classes she is taking at SXU are providing her with the skills she needs to be successful in her teaching career.  

"I have had classes where we would make lesson plans and teach them to the class. My ESL classes have helped me understand how to accommodate and modify work for students. Not every student learns in the same way, so I have learned the importance of teaching in different ways for students to understand so they can become successful," said Lopez. 

Earlier in her undergraduate career, Lopez participated in the Cougars LEAD Leadership Program, where she was able to complete the Cougars LEAD certificate.  

"The program helped me grow by teaching me how to build my resume, be a leader, and be part of a team. At the beginning of my junior year, I was a Peer SUCCESS Mentor. I was able to mentor students transitioning from high school to college. Being a Peer SUCCESS Mentor has helped me guide students and listen to student concerns, network with other professors and staff members, and create events for freshmen to get involved," said Lopez.  

Lopez is also president of the Education Club and senator of the Student Government Association (SGA).  

Lopez is grateful that she got to attend SXU at the same time as her sister, who studied biology and environmental and sustainability studies. They helped each other to survive college life. Other great memories of SXU include the friendships she's formed.  

"I was in a whole different environment than high school and struggled fitting in, making friends, and getting out of my comfort zone. But as time went on, I gained confidence by participating in events, including starting up the Education Club again. I've grown so much and am now open to trying new things, and I now have amazing friends who I can look up to and are also achieving their dreams. I'm grateful for the many opportunities SXU has offered to help me develop leadership skills and be part of an environment of wonderful people," said Lopez.  

As Lopez enters her senior year, she looks forward to student-teaching in the spring. After graduation, she will begin teaching at a high-needs school with the guidance of her Golden Apple mentors.