Latino Americans Blog
The American Dream that Came True
September 9, 2013 10:28 AM by Roy Lopez
As a child growing up with two parents from Monterey, Mexico, there were many challenges that I faced. One of the challenges was that neither of my parents spoke English. My parents, Emilio and Gloria Lopez, moved from Monterey Mexico to Bryan, Texas. As you can imagine in the 1950’s and 1960’s, jobs were scarce, so we moved to Fresno, California, and this is where my story began. Can you imagine having a sister who was thirteen years old, a brother who was ten, and yourself being seven, whose parents did not speak a word of English? Growing up in Fresno, CA, my family worked as migrant workers, working with peaches and grapes. I met a man as a child who told my parents, “Your child can only attend school for half a day. The remainder of the day he must work in the fields.” That man’s name was Cesar Chavez. I also met Dolores Huerta. Seeing how I was a child when I met them, I did not know who they really were. All I knew was that they were important figures at the time. I did not realize until later on while reading books on Civil Rights just how important they were and the role they played in our country. Later on, once at Texas A&M, I received an award from Dolores Huerta. When I saw her, I graciously thanked her for what she had done for myself and the other migrant workers. I am blessed to have seen her again, as an adult, to share with her how she helped me achieve my dream, and that’s call education.
Growing up and working under these conditions, my brother and I got ourselves in trouble. There was so much going on, such as The Peace Movement. There were motorcycle gangs like Hell’s Angels, the protesting over the Vietnam War, and the racism in schools. Can you imagine that? After getting caught up in the trouble in this time, my father decided to move our family back to Bryan, Texas. After that, we faced the other hurdle. And that was segregation. It was very difficult for me to adjust because I spent my childhood surrounded by the Hispanic community and now I had to be separated. “The Whites” If you are familiar with the movie “The Butler”, you can get a glimpse of what I endured as a child. After seeing this father decided to place me in St. Joseph’s Catholic School. I met a priest named Father Tim Valentine, who became my mentor and role model. Father Tim continued to push for furthering my education.
The next chapter in my life began when I graduated from high school. My parents and Father Tim continued to push me through my education. I was accepted into South West Texas State in San Marcos, Texas and played baseball for a year until an injury. I then transferred to the Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. Can you imagine attending this predominately white university in 1970s? However, I did not give up. I had a dream to achieve.
Upon graduating from Texas A&M with a Business Administration & Management degree in 1982, the dreams continued. With the intention of educating young lives, my life took a surprising change. I was one of seventy educators and community leaders who were invited to visit the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. Soon after I was the first Hispanic to be a recipient of the Texas Association of Financial Aid Advisors call the Star Award . Also, I was privileged to receive the Hispanic Heritage Community Award, presented by Delores Huerta. I was the second Hispanic in the history of Texas A&M to receive the John J. Koldus Faculty and Staff Achievement Award. I founded the Fiestas Patrias in 1990. That gives local scholarships to high school students and adults who seek further formal education. I was recognized for my outstanding efforts to recruit the best and the brightest students and cadets to Texas A&M University.
Working as a Senior Advisor at Texas A&M University, I have met a multitude of successful people, including Texas A&M University athletes and professional athletes. If you could really dream it, my parents became local business owners without knowing English, and have had their business doors open for over forty years now. I would like to thank God, my parents, my priest, my university (Texas A&M) and those who I have worked with and the students who have crossed my path. None of my success would have been possible without all of the continued support. I am a prime example of someone who came from nothing and made my dreams come true.
Roy Lopez graduated in 1977 from Bryan high school, attended Southwest Texas State in 1978 then transfered to Texas A&M University and graduated with a business administration management degree in 1982, he has been working in the education field for 21 years. Roy started working for a company called greater East Texas higher education authority for 11 years and then working in the admissions and financial aid office here Texas A&M University 10 years. He was a migrant worker as a child in Fresno California. Roy was the first Hispanic to be awarded the Star award from the Texas associate of financial aid administrators, the second Hispanic to win the koldus award here at Texas A&M University, the first Hispanic to attend an invitation to the United States Naval Academy which they invited only 70 educators and community leaders around the nation to attend a seminar offered by the Naval Academy. He also founded the Fiestas Patrias in the Bryan college station area 1990 which gives out scholarships to local students who plan to attend colleges. Also the first Hispanic to receive the Hispanic Heritage staff award here at Texas A&M and presented by Dolores Huerta. Dreams can come true believing in yourself and not let no one stop you from reaching that dream.