After moving to Grand Rapids from California, Salvador Lopez attended Grand Rapids Community College. One day, seemingly from luck, he stumbled onto Grand Valley’s Allendale campus. He fell in love with Grand Valley, and now he works to help more students find the university.
“Once students are here, and they see the campus like I did, they’ll fall in love with it,” Lopez said. “We want to make it easy for students to come to Grand Valley.”
As an associate director of Admissions, Lopez focuses on diversity recruitment. He started working in admissions in 2013, focusing on bringing underrepresented communities to Grand Valley.
“Since I come from poverty and an underrepresented community, it always made sense to try to connect with students on how they can achieve success in higher education, that’s my big goal,” Lopez said.
On top of making sure students get a chance to visit the university, Lopez wants to support underrepresented and first-generation students.
“Retention and graduation rates are the best forms of recruitment,” Lopez said. “How can I better help students be successful here, so that I can then recruit more students?”
Families and students meet with Lopez every day, either one-on-one or through small presentations. He travels to Detroit and Flint for recruiting, while also advising regional recruiters in Chicago and Detroit.
On-campus involvement is key when focusing on student success, Lopez said. He is the co-chair of Laker Familia, a student-led group dedicated to helping Latino and Latina students. He also meets with a Student Senate group to gain feedback.
“Wearing different hats is a challenge, but once I see the students on campus through Laker Familia, it allows me to reflect on the work that our office has done,” Lopez said.
Staying connected with what happens on campus is helpful when Lopez meets with recruiting teams. He said knowing the successes and challenges of students improves their recruiting ability.
“When I came to the university, the staff, whether it was people in admissions or professors, really made a difference,” Lopez said. “I want to be able to help others the same way I got help.”