UConn Graduate Joins Prestigious Alma Exley Scholarship Family
(West Hartford, Conn., May 20, 2015) – Justis Lopez of Manchester, a graduate of the University of Connecticut, has been honored by the Alma Exley Scholarship Program, which promotes greater diversity in the teaching profession.
He was introduced to educators, previous recipients and supporters of the program at a reception on Monday, May 4, at the Elmwood Community Center in West Hartford, Conn.
Mr. Lopez, a graduate of Manchester High School, has completed his degrees in the five-year Integrated Bachelor’s and Master’s Program in the Neag School of Education at UConn. He received a B.S. in Education with a major in history in May 2014 and received an M.A. in Education this month.
He has an outstanding record of academic achievement, public service and campus leadership. His flair for leadership became apparent early in his UConn career. He received the Emerging Leader Student Life Award as a freshman in recognition of his leadership in programs to orient and support new students.
Mr. Lopez has lent his considerable talents to a variety of initiatives to promote diversity and multicultural understanding at UConn and beyond. He was one of 14 students chosen to take the lead in fostering an inclusive community at the university. And he has worked in an inter-university initiative with the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) to broaden the demographic makeup of the teacher workforce.
He has been active in other campus organizations such as Bring Awareness to Latino Ethnicities (BALE), the Puerto Rican and Latino Cultural Center, and Leadership in Diversity (LID), intended to “put the lid on the achievement gap.”
He was a familiar figure at UConn sports events performing as Jonathan the Husky as a sophomore. And he was the UConn Homecoming King in 2014.
He also has made a name for himself as master of ceremonies and DJ for more than 300 social events. Based on this experience, he has established Justis League Entertainment, which provides music and photography for school functions, weddings and business events.
While pursuing a wide variety of extra-curricular activities, Mr. Lopez has achieved a strong academic record and has won praise from the faculty for outstanding performance in his student teaching assignments.
Mr. Lopez joins 25 others previously honored in the program established in memory of Alma Exley of West Hartford, a former teacher and an employee of the State Department of Education, who died in March 1995 from breast cancer.
Previous scholarship recipients are serving in public schools in Avon, Bloomfield, Manchester, Meriden, New Haven and Westport, Conn., and in public schools from Boston to Los Angeles. Meet them at www.almaexleyscholarship.org
The scholarship program is intended to honor future teachers who mirror the diversity of the student population, understand students’ diverse cultural backgrounds, serve as positive role models for minority and non-minority students, and provide a classroom environment that respects and celebrates a diversity of cultures.
Ms. Exley envisioned the program as a way to recognize and support outstanding persons of color who are preparing for careers in education. She believed that students of all ethnic backgrounds would benefit from greater diversity in the teaching profession.
According to figures from the State Department of Education, only about seven percent of public school teachers in Connecticut are persons of color, whereas students of color comprise approximately 40 percent of the state’s public school pupils.
Alma Exley Scholars are chosen from applicants who are enrolled in teacher-preparation programs in Connecticut. The Community Foundation of Greater New Britain, which administers the scholarship program, connects donors who care with causes that matter in Berlin, New Britain, Plainville and Southington. Established in 1941, the Community Foundation raises resources and develops partnerships that make a measurable improvement in the quality of life in each of these communities. For more information, please visit www.cfgnb.org or call 860-229-6018.