July 6, 2023

JSI Scholar: Juan López

Tell us about your story

I was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico, and throughout my childhood, I witnessed firsthand the impact of politics and our territory’s status on my community. These experiences sparked my interest in policy and government. When Hurricane Maria struck the island when I was sixteen, the apparent lack of local agency and resulting exodus highlighted the consequences of our second-class citizenship and the shortcomings of our democratic government overseen by a non-elected council appointed by the United States Congress. This event solidified my interest in policy and prompted me to make a difference. As I navigated my American identity, I realized that the values and ideologies championed by the United States played a significant role in shaping who I am. This realization led me to pursue higher education at Loyola University Maryland. While studying there, I interned and volunteered at the Esperanza Center in Baltimore, witnessing firsthand the marginalization of communities beyond Puerto Ricans. This experience reinforced my commitment to public service and my desire to address the issues that affect marginalized communities.

What made you consider a career in public policy/public service/international affairs?

My interest in public policy, international affairs, and public service stems from my desire to impact communities that have been historically underserved and underrepresented positively. Through education and active participation in civil society, I can help make a difference in the lives of those left behind. I am committed to using my skills and knowledge to contribute to our country’s betterment and ensure everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed.

Who inspires you to think about public service?

I am inspired to think about public service through my experiences and desire to impact the world around me positively. From a young age, I have witnessed the impact of politics and policy on my community and have felt a strong desire to help make a difference. This desire has only strengthened as I have grown older and gained more knowledge and skills. I am committed to using my abilities and resources to help address the many challenges facing our society and work towards creating a more just and equitable world for all. While many people have inspired me along the way, my own motivation and passion for public service are what drive me forward. I recognize that one’s ability to champion issues is most effective when rooted in personal experience. As such, I am dedicated to ensuring Puerto Ricans receive equal representation and access to federal development programs that would establish a strong foundation for admission into the American Union.

What are you most excited about the JSI program at UW?

What excites me most about attending the JSI at the University of Washington is the opportunity to learn from and collaborate with other like-minded individuals who are passionate about public service and social justice. The JSI offers a unique and intensive program that will allow me to understand better the issues facing our society and the skills and tools needed to address them. I also look forward to the hands-on, practical experience offered by the program. From the workshops and seminars to the group projects and networking opportunities, the JSI offers a comprehensive and immersive learning experience that will help me grow personally and professionally. This will be a massive stepping stone in my public servant journey. I am also excited to see the Fourth of July celebrations at the Space Needle!