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Meet Yajaira Lopez

Name: Yajaira Lopez

Major: Dance

Hometown: Mission

What made you pursue that major? “I’ve been dancing my whole life, ever since I was a little girl, but it wasn’t until middle school that I got introduced to drill team, so I’ve been dancing since sixth grade. All throughout middle school and high school, nothing else really caught my attention. It was always just dance, dance and dance, so I figured, why not make a career out of it? When I was in high school, especially junior and senior year, my teachers would say things like, ‘College is coming around, what are you going to study?’ and I would always be like, ‘I don’t know, I don’t know’ and they would tell me, ‘Well, dance is not going to take you anywhere.’ So, I started doing research about different companies, different universities and I saw that they were wrong, that I could do something with dance, so I decided to pursue a career in it.”

How long did it take you to finish your degree plan? “It took me exactly four years.”

Why study in UTRGV? “I’m a very family oriented person, so I chose UTRGV, or back then, UTPA, because it was closer to home and they had a good dance program. It’s still growing, but I figured why go somewhere else and waste a lot of money when I can get the same education here and be closer to home.”

What would you say was your greatest inspiration to graduate? “Definitely my mom and my dad. They don’t have a college degree, so one of their main things has always been, ‘School comes first, school comes first.’ All throughout college, I wanted to get a job, but they would tell me, ‘No, your job is to get an education, get a diploma and graduate.’ They have always been my biggest motivators to succeed in life and follow my sister’s footsteps. I’m the youngest out of three and both of them received their bachelor’s at UTPA, so they are like, ‘No, you can do it, you can do it! It’s your only job to get that degree.’”

What classes did you enjoy the most? “The classes that I enjoyed the most, I would have to say, were my ballet and my modern dance classes. They were very interesting to me because, as I mentioned, all I had ever known was drill team, which is very different. I never took classes outside, like in a studio or anything, so coming to UTPA, or now UTRGV, was my very first time I ever took classes. I really enjoyed them because now I was able to do everything that I would see people do on YouTube and, like, in big performances, like Broadway and stuff. So, it was very fun to, like, learn new things and learn ways to actually move my body in the correct form.”

What advice would you give to students who are barely starting? “Do not necessarily focus on how much time you have to do things. One of the things that matters the most is to just finish. I know things come along and there are going to be bumps on the road, but what matters the most is to get your diploma. Don’t ever, ever let anybody tell you what you can or can’t do in your life.”

What are some of your short- and long-term goals? “One of my short-term goals is to, hopefully, become a dance teacher at a public school, mainly because not many schools here in the Valley have dance programs. So, I hope to get that started and make it a bigger thing here with some of the different schools. One of my long-term goals is to, hopefully, get my master’s in fine arts. I know at the moment UTRGV doesn’t offer a master’s for dance. If I have to leave the Valley I will, but maybe in a few years, after I establish my career as an educator, if it so happens that UTRGV does begin to offer a master’s for dance, then I would definitely be going back.”

What do you like to do in your free time? “As I mentioned before, I’m very family oriented. I have two nieces and two nephews. They are so young and because of school, I don’t get to see them as much, but whenever I do get the chance, for example, on the weekends, I’ll go and I’ll spend time with them. Since my nieces are a little bit older, I do take them out to eat or get ice cream. I just like to spend a lot of time with my family because I don’t get to see them as often because of school. So, definitely, spending time with my family.”

What kind of music/artists do you like? “I like all kinds of music. My playlist extends from classical to Mexican music to rap. It’s just a big variety.”

Would you like to say something for someone special? “I would like to thank my parents for all of their unconditional love and support. Also, my boyfriend and my sisters from my sorority. They have always been by my side throughout the rough times in college, but they never left my side. They never doubted me, they were always there, so this is for all of them.”

–Compiled by Sergio Garcia

 

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