Graduate Spotlight: Lucas Lopez

May 12, 2021 Jaidyn Kamplain

If you’ve attended Hardin-Simmons within the last four years, you may have seen Lucas Lopez leading a campus tour, helping run events with SABERs, or sitting in on classes as a First Year Mentor. You may have even seen him studying with other Honors students, volunteering with BSM, or planning events for Kappa Phi Omega. These are just a few examples of ways that Lucas contributed to life at HSU, and this fall he will bring that same energy to the campus of his first-choice master’s program: Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Ga.

When Lucas visited his parents’ alma mater, he was enticed most by HSU’s familial atmosphere, financial aid, and Julius Olsen Honors Program. Another big factor for him was that the tour guides not only showed him around campus, but also wanted to get to know his story. Shortly after arriving as a freshman in the fall of 2017, he got a position as a tour guide to be able to provide future students with the same sense of belonging he felt when he arrived for his first campus tour.

As a highly involved biology major with three minors (biochemistry, Honors, and Spanish), Lucas has worked hard over the past four years to be able to get into his top-choice school. A big contributor to his education has been Dr. Jensen, Dean of the Holland School of Science and Mathematics. After taking her genetics course and expressing interest in the field, Dr. Jensen allowed Lucas to work as a TA for her genetics lab. Eventually, Dr. Jensen was able to write a letter of recommendation for Lucas.

“It’s amazing that I didn’t have to go through two different secretaries to just get a meeting with Dr. Jensen. I took her class, got to know her, and we stayed in touch. She’s a good friend of mine and she was also my capstone advisor,” shared Lucas. “Having that relationship with an important dean and professor is so unique, and I just wouldn’t have that at another university.”

Lucas spent time this year applying to 10 graduate schools across the country. He attended multiple Zoom interviews and carefully picked the contenders, eventually placing Emory at the top of his list.

Lucas said, “Even through the Zoom interview, I got a Hardin-Simmons feel from Emory. Just like my first time at HSU, I was feeling a connection with certain people and felt that I would be able to become great friends and colleagues with them. Emory has a phenomenal program, and they checked off all the boxes that I was looking for in a grad program.”

A few weeks ago, Lucas was matched to Emory and was excited to celebrate with friends and family. He will begin working towards his masters in genetic counseling this fall, which will include a mix of psycho-social counseling, medical genetics, bioethics, and research among many other subjects. Genetic counselors are medical professionals who takes complicated results from genetic tests and deliver it to patients in a way that provides them with a sense of peace and guidance.

Being a highly social individual with a passion for genetics, Lucas believes that being a genetic counselor will suit him well. He shared that he is especially excited to study with Emory’s great bioethics program and disorders of sexual development clinic.

“Technologies regarding genetics are growing, and I’ll get to be at the forefront of these conversations. I hope that people call me up in the future for advice about getting a genetic test or what certain results mean because that’s beyond exciting to me,” Lucas shared.

Lucas encourages incoming college students to fully dive into their passions and relationships with others.

“You’re going to meet people who inspire you. You’re going to learn about amazing things and develop new passions. When you do, fully dive into those because God has given you those passions for a reason. He is revealing Himself to you in the simple things that you find throughout your day-to-day life,” encouraged Lucas. “Also, take naps.”