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Hawk's Eye View: Adrien Lopez '02

Adrien Lopez

Sep. 21, 2022 | Jessica Shafer '25

Since its founding in 1947, UNC Wilmington has dedicated itself to enhancing one’s quality of life by offering the opportunity of education. As the institution recently surpassed the celebration of its 75th anniversary on September 4, few students have maximized the opportunities more than Adrien Lopez ’02.

A project manager for the implementation of the Access to Information Policy at the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington D.C., Lopez is charged daily with building communities and consensus to forward policy agenda.

For Lopez, who grew up in Alaska, that foundation of advocating and lending a voice to others was fostered as a Seahawk. She had an uncle who owned a mortgage company in Wilmington and, eventually, generations of her family arrived in town. But from her first steps on campus, she was struck by UNCW.

“I had the tour and the Ambassadors’ energy level and the love for campus was felt,” Lopez recalls. "The architecture brought together the whole campus and it had a beauty to it.

Adrien Lopez '02

Adrien Lopez '02

"I found a home."

A very busy home at that.

“I was an ambassador and a global volunteer on campus,” Lopez said.

“As a global volunteer we did these projects in Mexico and Nicaragua that opened my eyes to need. That really connects to my involvement now in international development. That experience planted the seed of needing to do more.”

Multiple mentors also filled Lopez's time on campus and helped to shape her global perspective.

Dr. Lou Buttino, who has since retired, really incentivize my activism that took off at UNCW – that global kind of activism, questioning and protesting. He passed along the importance of that from the 1970s, his experience and generation,” Lopez said.

As her campus opportunities continued to expand, she became involved with the Student Government Association (SGA), being elected as Student Body President and serving on the Board of Trustees as a senior. Her time with SGA also led to more mentors.

“Dr. Terry Curran and Pat Leonard were both involved when I was working with the Student Government Association,” Lopez said. “They were great mentors. I was disillusioned with something that happened my freshman year and I remember Dr. Curran telling me, ‘Look, you're going to have challenges in your life. I'm going to tell you now, you have to pick yourself up and keep doing this stuff.’ It's important to have your voice. He kind of pushed me to stay involved. That was that was a memory that still stands out.”

Another exceptional mentor for Lopez was the university chancellor during her tenure on campus, James Leutze. An advocate himself, Leutze created the international affairs program "Globe Watch", which aired for 15 years on public television networks nationally and internationally.

At UNCW, Leutze created an international committee that featured business leaders. One of those leaders was Russ La Belle, who connected Lopez with the Wilmington Rotary Club, which led to more international experiences.

She received a Rotary Club two-year Ambassadorial Scholarship after graduation from UNCW to complete her master's degree in social ethics and human development at Alberto Hurtado University in Santiago, Chile.

As head of the Corporate Social Responsibility Division at the Ministry of Labor with the Chilean government, she helped establish, and later coordinate, four consecutive international workshops on the role of government in Social Responsibility.

The Rotary Club scholarship and the opportunities it presented helped Lopez's future fall into place.

Adrien, her husband ?Name?, and their children.

Adrien, her husband, Rafael Lima, and their children

“I always knew business responsibility needed to happen,” Lopez said. "My career ended up going into corporate social responsibility, sustainability, environmental issues and now today. A piece of the bigger umbrella is governance – how companies and organizations are accountable to the public and transparent.

I'm working in transparency now and ensuring the Latin American region has access to the information about everything we're doing and how we're spending the money on important development projects – the things that are improving people's lives.”

As the university celebrates its 75 anniversary this academic year, it can say it has achieved its original goal of improving people's lives. As it has grown and flourished, the university now has the ability to point to Lopez, and scores of other Seahawks across the globe, who are carrying out the core mission of UNCW daily.