Austin Lopez: Artist Volunteer
February 09, 2012
A junior graphic design major, Lopez got into Angelo State from San Angelo Central High School through the Up and Coming Scholars program overseen by the ASU Multicultural Center.
“When I was at the Central Freshman campus, I was offered an Up and Coming Scholarship,” Lopez said. “They said if I keep good grades throughout high school and then college, my education would be paid for, so of course I went through with that, and that’s how I’m here at ASU. You have to maintain a good grade point average, have good attendance and good behavior, and you must be consistent. It’s really an incentive to keep doing well.”
By consistently doing well, Lopez was able to feed his inner artist and enroll for a semester of studying abroad in Italy through the ASU Center for International Studies.
Lopez finds satisfaction in helping others through volunteerism and his art.
“That’s always been a dream of mine,” Lopez said. “I went there from February to August 2011 and studied at the University of Verona. While I was there, I took archaeology and linguistics, because I’m also interested in language.”
He also studied figure drawing at the Accademia di Belle Arti G.B. Cignaroli, a 250-year-old art school in Verona, before he changed his focus from painting to graphic design. The Accademia has no official exchange agreement with ASU, but allowed Lopez to study there on an individual basis. He recently changed majors because of his interest in computers and the job prospects computer graphics offers.
“Painting will continue to be a part of my life,” he said, “which is what I’m doing right now. I’m also taking a figure-drawing class with Ms. (Peggy) Niño, so the class in Verona is coming in handy.”
Lopez also plans to use the linguistic skills he honed in Italy to volunteer for a conversation class with foreign students through the Center for International Studies—and that is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to his volunteer activities.
A member of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in San Angelo, Lopez teaches the basics of English twice a week at the church, where he has become friends with the priest, Fr. David Herrera. Lopez also employed his artistic talents to paint a portrait of Mother Teresa, the iconic Catholic nun who ministered to the sick and orphaned in India and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.
“Father David told a story of actually encountering Mother Teresa while he was becoming a priest,” Lopez said. “He had begun to doubt whether he should become a priest or not, and Mother Teresa came up to him and helped him make up his mind with a few words: ‘We are the pencil in the hand of God.’”
That story inspired Lopez to paint the portrait for Herrera to thank him for his dedication to the priesthood.
In addition to donating his time at the church, Lopez has volunteered on Rebuilding Together (formerly Christmas in April) projects helping paint and rebuild homes of senior citizens or people with health issues. He has also worked with disabled children at the West Texas Rehabilitation Center’s Lake Nasworthy summer camp.
“You hang out with the children, play games and help them enjoy the summer camp,” Lopez said.
It also lets Lopez enjoy the satisfaction he gets from helping people.