Ethnic GEM in the Making: Erika Lopez

School: Yale University
: Psychology & Neuroscience
GPA: 3.73

Written by: Doron Monk Flakes, Senior Writer

“ Not Park Slope, not Williamsburg where the hipsters like to live these days.” she says. “Southern Brooklyn, twenty minutes from the Coney Island boardwalk where I spent a lot of time as a child studying marine biology at the aquarium.”

The Yale student has a 3.73 GPA while working in the educational department at the Yale Center for British Art in an effort to bring inner city students into more regular contact with fine art. Lopez is involved in the Yale psychology lab with a focus on the Mechanisms of Disinhibition. She studies what causes criminal and risk taking behavior to hopefully cut down the rates of recidivism. Lopez was also a research assistant with the Motivated Cognition and Aging Brain Lab, screening subjects and helping design facial expression recognition software.


Lopez works as a Community Health Educator, leading a group of undergraduates in a workshop for New Haven high school students about the importance of building healthy relationships and ways to prevent abuse. 


She is also an active member of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority. “I am hoping to take up a board position this year in Kappa Alpha Theta with the goals of increasing racial and socioeconomic diversity in the sorority and starting workshops on promoting healthy eating and positive body image for women.” In addition to the academic, Lopez finds time to volunteer teaching English with Bridges ESL and has been a fashion blogger for the Y Fashion House and Yalefashion.com.


With so many irons on the fire, Lopez credits her support system for keeping her grounded and motivated. “I would be nowhere without my supporting parents,” she said. “My grandmother, Titi Alice, cousins Sandra and Justin, dance teacher Diarra Cummings, guitar teacher Eleazer Rodriguez, Professor Arielle Baskin-Sommers, Professor Maria Pilar Asensio-Manrique, Professor Gregory Samanez-Larkin, and my loving friends I can’t name you all but Miranda Duster, my whole suite this year, my big and grand big, Alejandro Nodarse, Darwin Edwards III, Bilal Nadeem and Ilana Urman. You have all changed my life and inspire me to do and be better every day.”

Lopez has the future at her feet. she says. “However, I can see myself in many roles, occupations, etc. including but not limited to “I see myself pursuing a phD in clinical psychology,” consulting, working at a Think Tank, or working in fashion. No matter what it is, I hope I am doing work that I love and am passionate about.” 


Congratulations to Erika Lopez our Ethnic GEM in the Making

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