Rutgers Fulbright Student Looks Forward to Teaching in Indonesia, Then Back at Home

Rutgers Fulbright Student Looks Forward to Teaching in Indonesia, Then Back at Home

Alexander Lopez-Perez, the first in his family to attend college, aspires to mentor students like himself

Alexander Lopez-Perez – the first in his family to attend college, now a graduate and Fulbright Grant recipient, aspires to mentor students like himself.
Alexander Lopez-Perez – the first in his family to attend college, now a graduate and Fulbright Grant recipient, aspires to mentor students like himself.

“Alexander is an inspiring human being, and a great example of the higher purpose of higher education: using mentoring programs like Rutgers Future Scholars to help students excel on the national level." – Rutgers–New Brunswick Chancellor Deba Dutta

Media Contact
Neal Buccino
848-932-7328

For Alexander Lopez-Perez, success lies in helping others, especially through mentoring, volunteering and fundraising.

His philosophy of “paying myself forward” has helped the New Brunswick native and Rutgers University–New Brunswick graduating senior travel the world. That includes a trip to Greece, where he helped develop and launch an English conversation program for refugees at a shelter.

Lopez-Perez will continue his journey of assisting others through his pursuit and acceptance of a Fulbright U.S. Student Program grant, which will take him to Indonesia to teach English during the 2018-2019 academic year.

Lopez-Perez, an English major and education minor in the School of Arts and Sciences, said he understands the value of helping others because of the assistance he received as a middle and high school student through Rutgers Future Scholars.  The initiative provides support for 200 academically promising students annually from low-income families in Rutgers University’s neighboring communities. Rutgers Future Scholars advance through a five-year mentoring program, including honors classes and career-skills training that prepare them for higher education.

“My parents wanted me to go to college, but it always seemed like an abstract concept.” he said. “But having encouragement and mentorship from the beginning through Rutgers Future Scholars really kept a lot of us on track.”

The first member of his family to attend college, he will graduate on Sunday with a 3.95 GPA and as one of about 1,500 students nationwide to receive a Fulbright grant. Through the work completed by the Office of Distinguished Fellowships, a division of Undergraduate Academic Affairs, Rutgers–New Brunswick has been a top national producer of Fulbright students for the past nine years. 

“Alexander is an inspiring human being and a great example of the higher purpose of higher education: using mentoring programs like Rutgers Future Scholars to help students excel on the national level,” Rutgers–New Brunswick Chancellor Deba Dutta said.

After his year in Indonesia, Lopez-Perez will return to Rutgers–New Brunswick ­and its Graduate School of Education (GSE). He completed his first year in its master’s in K-12 education program as an undergraduate senior.

“It’s impossible to imagine a more likable cultural ambassador than Alexander, and I can’t think of any candidate who worked harder to make his Fulbright application competitive,” said Arthur D. Casciato, director of the Rutgers Office of Distinguished Fellowships.

Mentoring has become a special passion for him thanks to his experience with Rutgers Future Scholars. He has volunteered in peer-mentoring programs through the college support program for students on the autism spectrum, the SAS Honors Program and the Paul Robeson Leadership Institute, among others.

His career goal is to fulfill that passion as a teacher in an urban school district, preferably his home town of New Brunswick.

“My mom wants the best for me. And she would have preferred other career goals, like at least teaching in a suburban or private school. ‘Wouldn’t you rather teach somewhere else?’” she said. “I told her, ‘I’m glad none of my teachers felt that way when it came to teaching your children.’ And she gets the point. Many of my peers growing up had very little. I want to help kids like that reach their full potential.”

 

Media Contact
Neal Buccino
848-932-7328