Ashley Lopez is a 2020 graduate from The Collegiate School of Memphis.
Learn more about her story and how much she loves the city of Memphis!
Why study Economics?
I remember the days in Mr.Fowler’s class: his class was my first introduction to economics. I was assigned to read FreakEconomics, instantly falling in love with the seemingly crazy connections the Economists were making about life. I sat there thinking, “How on Earth is a teacher related at all to a sumo wrestler?” The answer: Economics! During this time, I was also creating my own business thanks to the L.I.T.E. (Let’s Innovate Through Education) program. I saw how powerful the entrepreneurial side of business was. At the end of the day, it was a very easy decision to make to major in Economics. I saw it as a powerful and pivotal tool to understand the world around me, and create change.
Why did you decide to bring your talents back to Memphis?
I LOVE MEMPHIS. It truly is a hidden gem. I decided to come back to Memphis, because it really is a home to me. I grew up here. A large part of who I am is largely thanks to my experiences here in Memphis. I started my journey in business thanks to L.I.T.E. I was supported by countless organizations that saw my potential, and invested their time to teach me. I am very appreciative of all the support I have been given which is why Memphis will forever hold a special place in my heart. More than that, I am awestruck at the progress Memphis has made. Some see it in city planning; others see it in legislation. I see it in our businesses; there are so many amazing small businesses here in Memphis. That to me is enough proof that something truly special is brewing here—all thanks to our community. So of course, I came back.
There are so many organizations in Memphis right now focusing on bettering the city. Those are the type of people you will meet in Memphis. Dedicated. Empowering. Resilient. What’s there not to love about Memphis and Memphians?
How has The Collegiate School of Memphis helped shape you?
There are not enough words to express how grateful I am to have been taught at The Collegiate School of Memphis. I arrived as a small, shy sixth grader and left as an empowered graduate. My formative years as an individual were spent inside those hallways where I grew to value hard work, determination, and joy—and most of all, my community.
This school is one of the reasons I made it to Columbia University; they believed in me and gave me all the resources I needed to make it. It was very hard for me to see myself in an ivy league school. I thought that was only something you dreamed of, but at Collegiate, I was pushed to follow through—to see my dreams as realities. Their mission for success has stuck with me: I go over our core values whenever I need motivation in college. To this day, I say that Collegiate was not a school, but a family to me.
Who are/were central figures or role models that led you to your work/major?
My parents, Francisco and Esperanza Lopez, are my inspiration. They work so hard each day to make sure my siblings and I get a good education. Despite not having finished school themselves, they instilled in me the importance of learning. Knowledge is power. At Collegiate, the same sentiment transfers over. My former teacher, Mrs.Schaeffer, is like a second mother. She nurtured me, supported me throughout my years at Collegiate, and gave me so much advice about life. It was her, and Mrs.Burnett, that helped me with my applications to college. If I ever needed anything, they were always there to help me out. Both my family and teachers motivated me to work hard. I do it all for them. They are who I think of when I say I am blessed to live in the Memphis community.
It was very hard for me to see myself in an ivy league school. I thought that was only something you dreamed of, but at Collegiate, I was pushed to follow through—to see my dreams as realities.
What is your dream job/internship?
I want to be an immigration lawyer. I am a first generation, low income, Hispanic college student. Throughout my years in Memphis, I have seen many injustices against people who have a similar identity as mine. I want my community to feel safe and protected. I want them to feel the same type of warmth and love I have been blessed to receive. We need more compassionate immigration lawyers. Currently, my plan is to graduate Columbia University with a bachelor’s degree in Economics and concentration in Political Science. My prime goal is to attend law school – fingers crossed I go to Georgetown Law School.
If there was one thing you learned by growing up in Memphis, what was it?
Nothing beats our southern charm! We are a community that values great hospitality. We are always lending a hand, helping each other in any way we can. Because of Memphis, I have learned the importance of partnerships, collaboration, and volunteer work. Anything that allows for cross collaboration to reach a targeted goal is an astounding demonstration of our success as a city.
What is your favorite thing about Memphis?
Memphis is a big city with a small town feel. I guarantee that if you met a stranger, you would know one person in common. Try it! All you have to do is ask them what school they went to. No, but honestly, I love the people and their innovation. There are so many organizations in Memphis right now focusing on bettering the city. Those are the type of people you will meet in Memphis. Dedicated. Empowering. Resilient. What’s there not to love about Memphis and Memphians?