Not everyone can closely tie their education to bettering their hometown. But, Amaryllis Lopez, ’20, is fostering artistic vibrancy and youth empowerment in her Lawrence community with help from her Bridgewater State University studies.
Amaryllis, an English major with minors in Latin American and Caribbean studies and African American studies, helps run art and social justice organization Elevated Thought. Her minors are no accident for the writer and poet of Puerto Rican ancestry.
“This is the community of Lawrence,” she said. “It helps me remind myself why I’m in school, the kind of people I want to impact and help. It gives me drive and keeps me passionate.”
Amaryllis’ commitment to her city is clear. She helps run Andover Bread Loaf, a literacy and writing education initiative. And, as program director at Elevated Thought, she handles logistics as the nonprofit serves youth facing inequality and beautifies the landscape with colorful murals.
One mural on a downtown parking garage depicts a child blowing bubbles and includes words brainstormed by Lawrence residents to describe their city – love, hope, family, opportunity and diversity to name a few.
Those also apply to the Bridgewater State University community, one Amaryllis first experienced through her sister, Alexandra Lopez-Hernandez, ’18.
Attracted by a chance to explore the world, Amaryllis followed her sister’s footsteps and became a Bear. She’s taken full advantage of her time at BSU, joining student club La Sociedad Latinx, spending a semester in Puerto Rico and traveling to Caribbean Studies Association conferences.
BSU provided “the confidence to believe in myself,” she said. “I definitely want to take what I’ve learned at Bridgewater and expand on that. I have deep relationships with faculty who are always pushing me to do more.”
Amaryllis stands out to Dr. Allyson Ferrante because of her effervescent, sincere, hard-working personality. She’s eagerly expanded her boundaries academically and geographically.
“Her time at BSU has really helped her to see you can be an academic and scholar and that’s a form of social justice activism as well,” said Ferrante, an associate professor of English. “I’m so excited about her development. I really believe she could go on to do anything.”
Amaryllis plans to further her education after graduating, but also remains committed to giving Lawrence youth a chance to express their creativity and create a better tomorrow. She hopes they consider BSU and its many resources. And, she encourages her fellow Bears to look at Lawrence in a new light.
“I just love my community so much,” she said. “I think we’re such powerful, resilient people. We’re here and we’re proud and we’re loud.”
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