For Natalie Lopez, furthering her education at BYU has been a lifelong dream.
This year, the path to accomplishing this dream was realized when she received an unexpected call from then Utah Jazz basketball player, Georges Niang.
Niang informed Lopez that she had been chosen to receive a four-year full-ride scholarship from the Utah Jazz.
“At first, I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t have any words,” she explained.
After the message had sunk in, however, she immediately shared the good news with her parents — an experience she’ll never forget.
“It was a very special experience; it was really emotional, and we were all in tears,” she recalled.
Education has always been important to the Lopez family. In high school, she worked hard to earn a 4.0 GPA while juggling other extracurricular activities such as being cheer captain, manager of the school soccer team, and member of the student council. She says receiving the scholarship represents something bigger than herself and her hard work.
“In a way, receiving this scholarship was a tribute to my parents and the sacrifices they made in getting me to where I am today,” she explained.
Before Lopez was born, her parents lived in Mexico while her dad worked as an architect for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As part of his job, he frequently visited Utah and saw first-hand the educational opportunities available in the United States, and at BYU in particular. In an effort to provide better opportunities for their children, Lopez’s parents packed up everything, moved to Utah, and started fresh.
Because of her parents’ sacrifices, obtaining a degree from BYU has always been a priority in Lopez’s life.
“Education has always been a big focus in my family, and my parents have always encouraged me and my siblings to get the best education we can,” Lopez explained.
After observing the interactions her siblings had, the relationships they built, and the overall quality of education they received at BYU, she knew from a young age BYU was the place she wanted to be.
And thanks to the Jazz scholarship, Lopez now has the opportunity to experience those things first-hand.
“There is no way I would be here at BYU without this scholarship,” she explained. “My experience being at BYU has been really good so far. I already feel like I belong.”
“In a way, receiving this scholarship was a tribute to my parents and the sacrifices they made in getting me to where I am today."
Although Lopez isn’t exactly sure what she wants to study over the next four years at BYU, she is looking forward to exploring more within the sciences and medical fields. She credits her high school health science classes and a research project she conducted on concussions for igniting her interest in science-related subjects.
She hopes that following this passion for health and science will eventually lead her to opportunities that allow her to give back to others.
“I want to get to the point where I can, with the education I get here at BYU, build a foundation of my own so I can give back to other people in the way that I have been given to.”