Outstanding Islander Graduate Daisy Lopez ’23 Volunteers in Local Community, Earns Biomedical Science Degree

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A stellar scholar, an active community contributor, and a resilient young adult in the face of adversity, Daisy Lopez ’23 will earn her Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Science (BIMS) from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi on Saturday, Dec. 16, and will represent the university as the Fall 2023 College of Science Outstanding Islander Graduate.

For Lopez, a Corpus Christi native, the decision to attend TAMU-CC was a natural one.

“I am proud to attend the university of my hometown, and to be an Islander,” she said. “I still live in the same little room my crib was in — but now as a college student.”

As a BIMS major minoring in chemistry, Lopez quickly found herself in the lab of Dr. Fereshteh Billiot, TAMU-CC Professor in Chemistry, where she worked on the characterization and synthesis of green amino acid surfactants. Lopez discovered a mentor in Billiot, who pushed her to succeed and overcome her own self-doubt.

“What makes Dr. Billiot stand out is that she’s always there for me,” Lopez said. “I know that I can rely on her if I need any academic help, or even if I have personal issue occur. She believes in me and her dedication to my success has made a big difference in my journey toward achieving my goals.”

Dr. Billiot recalls being impressed by Lopez from their first meeting.

“I could tell right away that she was hardworking, talented, and smart,” Billiot said, “When she started taking my Advanced Molecular Spectroscopy class, she didn’t have all the background knowledge for the class, but every Monday, Daisy would come to my office at 7 a.m. to study for our quizzes and she wouldn’t leave until she understood everything. Her hard work paid off and she made an A.”

During Lopez’s second year of college, she tragically lost her father.

“I lost not only my best friend but someone who never had the opportunity to receive schooling past the 7th grade,” Lopez said. “He was the most intelligent, hard-working individual I knew. After his death, my world was shattered. I stopped eating and sleeping; I couldn’t even drive myself anywhere, let alone focus on my classes.”

Lopez said that without support from the University Counseling Center, I-CARE, and a grief and loss support group on campus, she would not have prevailed.

“I did it because my father, whom I called Dida, always believed in me and encouraged my studies throughout my entire life,” Lopez said. “He told me, ‘Education is something that can never be taken away from you.’ I still find everyday difficult without my father, although I know he is forever in my heart.”

During this difficult time, Lopez also received support from her immediate family, including her mother.

“I have grown up knowing that my mom is always there for me, and I hope that I can be as strong and independent as she is,” Lopez said. “My mom has held my family together and I count on her guidance and support so much. I am also filled with love thinking of my grandparents, aunts, and uncles whose work ethic and determination serve as a constant source of inspiration to me.”

Lopez is a proud scholarship recipient, having received nearly $70,000 in financial aid and scholarships. She credits generous donors with giving her the ability to stay in school.

“After losing my dad, our household income decreased significantly,” Lopez said. “I even found myself attending neighborhood food banks, standing in line with the homeless. The awarded aid assistance of the CARES Act, Islander Scholarship, STARS Scholarship, and many more have been great blessing for me and my family.”

During her time on campus, Lopez served as a Student Government Association senator representing the College of Science. She was also on the Student Conduct Board, was elected president of American Medical Student Association, and was a Waves of Welcome leader. She was also active in TRIO/SSS-STEM, where she met a second mentor, Julia Norrell, TRIO/SSS-STEM Program Manager.

“At the beginning of this fall semester, the first anniversary of my dad’s passing was nearing, and I suffered the loss of my cousin,” Lopez said. “I felt a dark cloud coming over me, but in that moment, I found guidance from Julia. It was very hard for me to open up and discuss what I was going through, but I knew she’d understand, and I was so glad to be able to count on her support.”

In an effort to give back to those around her, Lopez mentored younger BIMS majors who worked in Billiot’s lab. She also volunteered with the Annaville Fire Department and Allegiance Mobile Heath. At both sites, Lopez served as a first responder in life-and-death situations. Lopez received the Presidential Volunteer Service Award in 2022 and 2023 for an incredible 250+ volunteer hours served.

Lopez’s next goal is to be accepted into the TAMU-CC Master of Science in Chemistry program under Billiot’s mentorship. Ultimately, she aims to attend medical school.

“Every day since I became an Islander, I have grown as a student and an individual,” she said. “I have learned to be more independent and to have pride in who I am. At the Island University, I acquired an abundance of knowledge that I will always carry with me.”