Honored to be an Eagle
Alumna Finds Her Way at Georgia Southern
It has been two years since Alexa Lopez (’20) walked across the graduation stage at Georgia Southern University, but she remains one of the University’s biggest cheerleaders.
“I’m doing amazing at my job because of Georgia Southern,” said Lopez, now a software developer for General Motors (GM) in Atlanta. “This college has shaped me in so many ways that people I know today would not understand. They don’t know how painfully shy I was, how few goals I had for my future, how little I put myself out there before I went to Georgia Southern.”
Prior to coming to the Statesboro Campus, Lopez attended college in her native Puerto Rico. But her life was upended when Hurricane Maria, a category 5 storm, battered the island. Recovery from the storm was a daily struggle.
“Before applying to Georgia Southern, my family and I had been without water and electricity for weeks,” she said. “It was difficult keeping up with food because most of us used credit cards to pay; however, stores were only accepting cash.”
The college she attended had closed and she didn’t know when it would reopen. Her father, who lives in Georgia, suggested she transfer to Georgia Southern. Lopez considers it one of the best decisions she’s ever made.
“The people I’ve met at Georgia Southern have been a huge influence in my life,” she noted. “They taught me how to be the best developer I could be and how to be the best version of myself as well.”
THE RIGHT DECISION
The alumna majored in information technology and she still remembers the class that confirmed she selected the right major.
“There’s no doubt that my favorite class was webpage development with Professor Kristen Hawkins,” said Lopez. “I learned how to make a website from scratch using code, something I thought I’d never be able to do. The skills I learned in that class apply today in my career as a developer.”
As a woman pursuing a career in a field dominated by men, Lopez knew how important it was to network with other women forging careers in tech industries. She joined Women in Technology (WIT), an organization that supports the advancement of women and girls in science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics.
“I was, and I am, still to this day, all about Women in Technology,” said Lopez. “This organization pushed my growth in so many ways that I can’t thank them enough.”
Shortly after she graduated in December 2020, Lopez joined GM in Atlanta, where she trained for a software developer lead role. Her main responsibilities include scheduling and setting meetings for the team, breaking down business user stories into tasks, conducting code reviews, guiding and mentoring others on how to implement tasks and helping solve ‘bugs.’
But what she enjoys most are the opportunities for growth and networking at the automaker.
“There’s always a project that needs someone with a certain skill to help volunteer,” Lopez said, “or an event where you can talk one-on-one with big names at GM or showcase your best accomplishment. Anyone can get visibility. All you need to do is put yourself out there to get it.”
She was also accepted into JumpStart, an organization for new employees to get involved in different events to socialize, network and grow professionally within the company.
“I’ve been able to interview CIOs during my first year in front of hundreds of employees in the company,” she said. “I definitely have improved my confidence and public speaking skill.”
PROUD TO BE AN EAGLE
Lopez uses her spare time to meet with friends and colleagues, try out fancy restaurants or play with Eve, her little Yorkie. And she continues to praise Georgia Southern for the way it transformed her life.
“I came to Georgia with little to nothing because of a bad hurricane in Puerto Rico in 2017 and was looking for better opportunities.,” she said. “I was able to achieve tons of scholarships at Georgia Southern, have awesome job opportunities and be able to own my first home at 22. I’m grateful for this every day. It’s been a pleasure being an Eagle at Georgia Southern University.” — Sandra Bennett