Miguel Lopez | Spotlight

Picture of Miguel Lopez in Iraq.

Staying close to campus via cyberspace

Keeping up with studies while in Iraq

He may not be galaxies away, but Miguel Lopez is definitely oceans away from his home and campus.

Despite being called to serve with the 304th sustainment brigade of the U.S. Army, this psychology major doesn’t allow distance to separate him from a key goal.

In fact, Lopez completed two online courses offered at Cal State L.A. last quarter—while serving his country in the Middle East—toward his degree requirements.

According to Staff Sergeant Lopez, “I took both Astronomy 151 and 160 online because here in Iraq I can see the sky clearly most days.”

An “ultimate” laboratory experience, he observed the night sky and studied the celestial objects while guarding a food warehouse. “I am able to study whenever I have time—in bed or at work,” noted Lopez.

Astronomy 151 surveys modern astronomy, primarily properties and evolution of solar system, stars, and the universe. And, the 160 class is a study of the origin and evolution of the universe, including the evolution of cosmological ideas through time and cultures.

Milan Mijic, professor of physics and astronomy, said, “Miguel Lopez did a good job on his course work and we had some interesting conversations. I was very impressed with his commitment. And, it was fun communicating with a student who is halfway across the world. It makes one appreciate modern educational technology.”

Reflecting on his service in Iraq, Lopez said, “So far, in my experience here, I know we have helped the Iraqi people. I see a lot of kids here. My dream is to be a pediatrician. I want to help kids.”

After completing his bachelor’s degree in psychology upon his return home, Lopez plans to apply to a postbaccalaureate program to fulfill prerequisites for medical school. Lopez was previously a member of the University’s Chicanos/Latinos for Community Medicine student organization. A Los Angeles native, Lopez graduated from John Marshall High School.