Jean Lopez will graduate from Augusta Christian Schools in Martinez later this month with a head start - he's already been officially accepted to Yale University in New Haven, Conn.
And if being accepted to one of the nation's top colleges weren't enough, Lopez had his choice of top-notch schools. Duke, Emory, Wake Forest and Washington University are just a few of the schools that accepted the STAR student.
But for Lopez, finding the right school meant accepting the offer to attend Yale.
"When I visited Yale, it was my favorite one," the 18-year-old said. "The people were just really friendly. And, frankly, they seemed the most interested in me and seemed to care more."
Lopez, the son of Juan and Nahir Lopez of Augusta, also said he felt Yale would better mesh with his potential career choice, which is politics.
"If you had talked to me a few months ago, I would have said I was going to major in medicine," he said, adding that his father is a plastic surgeon. "But I'm now leaning towards politics - something where I'm in the background, a behind-the-scenes person."
Russ Rodgers, Lopez' history teacher for the past two years, is largely credited with his student's decision to go into politics.
Jean Lopez, a STAR student and senior at Augusta Christian Schools, is planning on a career in politics.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
"One of the things I discussed with Jean was that he should still study medicine and be involved in politics on the side," said Rodgers, a former political consultant. "You don't want to be in full-time politics because it doesn't pay, and you'll be burned out before you're 30."
Still, Rodgers said he is happy to see his student take such an intent interest in politics.
"He's got an astute mind that most young people don't have," Rodgers said. "For that matter, most adults don't have as astute a mind as Jean does."
Rodgers said Lopez and a group of his friends are often found discussing political issues.
"I have enjoyed having him in class," Rodgers said. "Him and a few other students have been a highlight of class discussions."
At Augusta Christian, Lopez has been a member of the Beta Club for four years and has previously served as the club's vice president and treasurer. He was on the school's tennis team and won a Best Actor in Region award for his performance in the school's one-act play. He also volunteers at the Ronald McDonald House in Augusta.
Lopez chose math teacher Kristy Lyon as his STAR, or Student-Teacher Achievement Recognition, teacher earlier this year, marking her 10th year to receive the honor. Lopez and classmate Andrew Fisher tied as the school's STAR students this year. Both chose Lyons as their STAR teacher.
"I've had her since the 8th grade, and she has yet to be unenthusiastic about math, whether it's geometry or differential calculus," Lopez said. "She's also helped me grow as a Christian and has, in the past, pulled spiritual lessons from a math lesson."
Lopez said he hopes he to make all his former teachers proud, regardless of what field he enters.
"I know that wherever I go, I want to make an impact for Jesus Christ and serve him with any work I decide to do," he said.
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