Miriam PercivalMercury Staff
Chris LinMercury Staff
Only 55 out of 450 applicants accepted to Harvard program
Next month, UTD will have its first-ever attendee at Harvard’s Public Policy and Leadership Conference.
On Feb. 18, Brooke Lopez, a public affairs sophomore, will attend the conference at Harvard’s campus just outside of Boston.
Out of the 450 applicants, Harvard selected 55 to attend this year’s conference. The five-day event will feature various speakers and seminars. Students who attend are granted automatic admission into Harvard’s Kennedy School graduate program.
Although Lopez isn’t sure what to expect from the conference, she is excited to develop new perspectives on public policy issues.
“I am going to be able to gain a refined look into public policy I might not have had before as a student advocate,” she said. “I might be able to look at it more as a career, not as a side job I take on next to college.”
Motivated by a friend’s murder in high school, Lopez started working when she was a teenager with Jodie Laubenberg, a member of the Texas House of Representatives, to pass a bill that would keep a person charged as a minor from expunging felonies from their records.
“It was a lot harder when I was in high school because nobody took me seriously,” she said. “So it’s been a lot easier when I’ve been in college and I’ve been pursuing a degree in public affairs. They take to it a lot nicer.”
Lopez hopes to introduce the bill into the next Texas House of Representatives session in 2017.
While Lopez was attending Wylie East High School, she became close with her teacher Vito Peri who she often talked with about her accomplishments, going to college and her dream of being in politics. Peri also helped her create her nonprofit, Students of Change, which focused on social assistance and health care in the community.
“This is a huge honor and I’m very proud of her, but I can’t say that I’m very surprised,” he said. “She is one of the most dedicated students that I had.”
Lopez is currently on the executive board of the UTD chapter of Delta Zeta. Her chapter director Angel Hunt said the sorority is excited Lopez is going to Harvard next month.
“We’re so proud to have Brooke, and the fact that she is so compelled to be in public service — it is a sweet spot for me personally,” Hunt said. “I love to see people getting involved and driven to make a change in our world. Getting involved politically is something that a lot of people shy away from, and the fact that she has no fear and is ready to take on the world is awesome.”
Lopez said she hopes that attending the conference will help advance UTD’s academic standing with Ivy League universities.
“It’ll be an amazing opportunity to not only put me on the map as a public policy advocate, but to put UTD on the map as a very serious, academically advanced university,” she said.