Students » Student Story: Katelynn Lopez

Student Story: Katelynn Lopez

Katelynn: Shooting for the Stars

by Gerald Gomez, ACCT Advisor

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On November 15, 2015, a young student by the name of Katelynn Lopez arrived on the campus of the Los Angeles Technology Center with her father and enrolled in the Accelerated College and Career Transition/ACCT program. With only 10 credits completed during the first three years of high school, she had little hope of earning her high school diploma before her 18th birthday. Nonetheless, she persevered, passed the HiSet and completed the required 50 credits to earn her high school diploma by the Summer of 2016.


Katelynn enrolled at West Los Angeles College, literally shooting for the moon and stars. She declared as an Astro-Physics major and looks to transfer to Cal Tech or UCLA. Today, she serves as a teacher assistant at our Diane Watson Center ACCT program and has just been accepted to participate in the NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars/NCAS five-week online course. The top student performers will receive an invitation to the fall NASA Experience in March 2021.


Here Is Katelynn’s story in her own words…


So, when Mr. Gomez first told me that I could have my diploma in hand by that summer, I could hardly believe my ears. Suddenly, there was hope in the world. I set out with a mission and worked hard. It was difficult at times; however, I was supported by a great teacher and counselor. Mrs. Olaco always pushed me to do more and more each week and reach outside of my comfort zone. She never let me slack off or let me lose sight of the prize that lay ahead.

After piles and piles of work, I finally graduated during the summer of 2016. (Special thanks to my teacher’s assistant, Steven, for grading all of that!)


I started school at West Los Angeles College right away. I dabbled in a little bit of everything but shied away from the idea of anything to do with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics), because in my mind I was not smart enough to take on such a daunting task. I soon realized, however, that I would not be happy if I did not at least try. And so, I broadened my horizons and sought out the stars.


Borrowing from JFK in his famous “Moon” speech, I choose this not because it is easy, but because it is hard. I choose this because it takes the best of my energy and skills to accomplish. I choose this because it is a challenge that I am more than willing to accept. However, most importantly I choose to not let my past define my future.


I want to thank the wonderful staff at LATC, for helping a girl like me shoot for the stars. Were it not for all of the support I was given, I could’ve easily led a different life altogether Even now as a teacher’s assistant for the ACCT program at Diane Watson, I strive to create a welcoming environment like the one that great teachers like Mr. Gomez, Mrs. Olaco, Mr. Oropeza, and Mrs.Cohen provided for me during my time at LATC.


Just this past month, I was selected to be part of NASA’s Community College Scholars. I am beyond thrilled and grateful for the opportunity. I know that this is just the beginning for me because through hard work and determination, not even the sky is the limit for me!