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Ana Lopez was lucky enough to find a job working at the Arizona House of Representatives shortly after graduating from ASU with a bachelor’s degree in political science. She found the atmosphere so electric that she knew she wanted to take the opportunity further.
A friend, Jordan Hibbs--an alumna of the Master of Science and Technology Policy program, and now a management and program analyst with the U.S. Department of Energy -- told Lopez that her experience with the program had really catapulted her.
“It was a lightbulb moment for me,” Lopez said.
Lopez’s parents own a water utility, and she had long been interested in the water-energy nexus. The significance of the two in policy-making drove her to enroll in the MSTP program.
“It is a competitive degree, and that was a major point of attraction,” she said. “But you get a lot of leeway in how you want to structure your education.”
Another major factor in the choice was the faculty.
“They have such a diverse array of experience,” she said. “They are all experts in their own niches.”
Lopez praised Andrew Maynard’s knack for helping students find their interests, and Robert Cook-Deegan’s informed perspective as someone who had already done a lot of work at the federal level.
“Having instructors who can come to class and talk about the subject from their own personal experience is a huge advantage for us students,” Lopez said.
She also appreciates the diversity among the MSTP student community, noting that her classmates have a wide variety of interests, career aspirations, and backgrounds.
“MSTP students come from all over with interests in health, water, policy, energy--it really enriches the learning environment,” she said.
Her experience in Arizona’s legislative government came in handy when a spot opened up to represent SFIS in ASU’s Graduate and Professional Student Association. Lopez found it rewarding to advocate for her fellow graduate students.
“A lot of students don’t feel like they have a voice or a role in how the university operates but they do, and I look for ways to open up those channels,” she said.
Her interest in water and energy has led her to do her applied project on the closure of the Navajo Generating Station and its implications. She also realizes that water is so interrelated to every level of society that any decision made regarding it is inherently political.
“Here in the desert, any policy decision on water has major impact,” she said. “We have to be very careful with this vital resource.”
Today, she interns at the Kyl Center for Water Policy.
Lopez recently received an Outstanding Achievement and Contribution Award from ASU’s Commission on the Status of Women. She was selected for the award based on her work on sexual assault awareness advocacy during her visit with Arizona congressional members in Washington, D.C.; her work during sexual assault awareness month at ASU; as well as her work in the last election cycle to elect leaders and promote initiatives that positively impact women.
She recommends that future students think about their undergraduate experience--which classes engaged them and what about them was so interesting. She also suggested building strengths in writing and communication and reaching out to current graduate students to prepare for an advanced degree program.
“Sometimes balancing so many activities is stressful, but meeting these challenges now will better prepare me for the work environment in the future,” she said. “Even though there is pressure, it has always been a rewarding experience.”