Photo of CCC student

David Lopez is a student, an artist, an aspiring engineer, a campus leader—and now, a Lincoln Laureate. The Daley College civil engineering student was selected to represent all 48 community colleges throughout the state as a Lincoln Academy of Illinois 2023 Student Laureate.

Students holds award at a podium.
David Lopez holds his Student Laureate award at the Lincoln Academy ceremony on Saturday, November 4, 2023.

The honor is awarded to one student from each of the participating four-year colleges and universities in Illinois, as well as one student from all of the state’s community colleges, who is selected by the Illinois Community College Board. On November 4, 2023, David joined his fellow laureates at a ceremony in Springfield to receive the prestigious honor.

According to the Lincoln Academy, “student laureates are honored for their leadership and service in the pursuit of the betterment of humanity and for overall excellence in curricular and extracurricular activities.” For his part, David is very involved on campus. He serves as the president of Daley’s Student Government Association (SGA) and is a member of the college’s Engineering Club. An artist in his free time, David is also working to start a creative arts club at Daley. He enrolled at the college in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and said it was important to him to join clubs and activities to meet people.

“I wanted to put myself out there—to meet people,” David recalled. “Coming out of the pandemic, I felt isolated. My first idea was to join a club. When I heard about SGA, that was my entry point for leadership.”

David originally started his college journey at a four-year university after graduating from Muchin College Prep. However, he struggled during his first semester due to the pandemic and decided to withdraw from his classes. In the meantime, David started working at his former elementary school, where one of the teachers told him to look into City Colleges. Daley College was close to his home in Chicago’s Ashburn neighborhood, so he did some research and decided to enroll.

While David had been interested in engineering since high school, Daley is where he took some of his first engineering classes and realized how much he enjoyed the subject. He has also taken advantage of some of the resources on campus, like the Wellness Center.

“One of the resources that has really helped me is the Wellness Center,” he said. “They taught me how to manage my courses and taught me tactics to help me out in school.”

Another source of support came from Daley College’s Director of First-Year Experience Dr. Damyen Davis, who encouraged David to become a leader on campus.

“He’s been an inspiration and mentor to me,” David said. “He ignited a fire within me that made me passionate to be a part of SGA. To this day, he’s still helping me out, and I know he’s going to be there the whole way through.”

David is building his leadership skills outside of school, too. For the past two summers, he has interned at Argonne National Laboratory through the Community College Internship. He now serves as a student ambassador for Argonne, which has helped to fuel his career passion in engineering.

Once David graduates from Daley, he plans to transfer to a four-year college or university to continue his studies in civil engineering. While he is still determining his ultimate career goal, he is considering the idea of becoming a researcher at a national lab like Argonne—or maybe even a professor at his alma mater, Daley College.

“I feel like I’ve grown a lot even just in the couple years I’ve been here,” David said. “I’ve grown as a person, as a leader, just overall.”