Poli sci major, classic car enthusiast
revs up for career shaping the law
Danny Lopez likes to make things run smoothly. When he’s not on campus or at his full-time job at an Austin pawn shop, he can be found tinkering under the hood of one of his classic automobiles.
He got into his hobby at age 20 with the purchase of his first car — a 1978 El Camino he bought from his brother. “It didn’t run. It didn’t do anything. I started taking it apart until I figured out what was wrong. I was driving that car in a month,” Lopez says. He had no prior mechanical knowledge, learning as he went by reading engine repair manuals, unafraid of the challenge. “It’s just nuts and bolts, I figured,” Lopez says with a shrug.
Lopez approaches life and academic challenges with the same easygoing attitude, always ready to roll up his sleeves and get things done. Quick with a smile and a warm laugh, Lopez makes hard work look easy. Assuming he maintains his prior academic performance until the end of his final semester — and there’s no reason to suspect he won’t — he’ll graduate from Texas State University this week with a perfect 4.0 GPA.
Lopez, 27, a political science major, grew up in East Austin. He got his first degree, an associate degree in criminal justice, from Austin Community College. His intention was to become a police officer, thinking that would enable him to make deep changes within his community. As he learned more about the field, Lopez realized “it’s not so much law enforcement that’s the issue, it’s the law itself.” He came to Texas State to get his degree in political science as a way to learn how to shape the law by getting in on the ground level.
No matter what his future holds, Lopez certainly will make an impact. His ability to influence people already has made a difference within his own family. After he received his first degree, two of his three siblings decided to go back to school.
“Growing up, education wasn’t a reality to us. It wasn’t something we talked about on a daily basis. But eventually we realized that school offers a doorway to somewhere else. Once my siblings were able to see the enjoyment I got from it, the experiences I’ve experienced, and what I’m able to do now, that spurred them on,” says Lopez.
Lopez’s close-knit family was on hand recently when he received three awards during the Liberal Arts Award Day:
- Academic Excellence
- Richard B. Henderson Award
- Howard Mell “Prof” Greene Endowed Scholarship
“It makes me happy that I can share that with my family,” Lopez beams. “My family has been central to where I’m at now.”
Lopez’s future plans include pursuing a master’s degree or going to law school. He’ll give his next steps some thought as he takes a year off to spend time with his wife — and to fix up a 1973 Nova.