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Breaking Boundaries: Julie Lopez's Inspiring Venture into the i3 Program

Friday, October 20, 2023
Breaking Boundaries: Julie Lopez's Inspiring Venture into the i3 Program

The commitment to knowledge and personal growth shines brightly at The College of Westchester. Our students consistently stand out, not just as learners but as pioneers of change. Julie Lopez, our BBA Accounting major set to graduate in 2024, exemplifies this spirit, and has been chosen as one of the exclusive 25 students nationwide to become an i3 Scholar. Since 2012, The college of Westchester has had 15 students accepted to participate in the i3 Program.

The iSchool Inclusion Institute (i3) is a unique venture. More than just an undergraduate research program, it stands as a beacon for inclusion and empowerment. Specifically designed to prepare students from underrepresented populations for graduate studies and careers in the information sciences, the program offers an unparalleled learning experience. The program consists of a combination of rigorous training, summer institutes, extensive research, and most importantly, the chance to initiate positive change in the wider community.

For Julie, the i3 opportunity signifies more than just a program. She sees it as a platform to "experience new opportunities, working online with people from around the country." Beyond academic enrichment, Julie is learning the essentials of modern-day work: managing remote teams, navigating time zone differences, and mastering diverse project management styles.

When reflecting on her experiences at the summer institute, Julie speaks warmly of the camaraderie and relationships she built. "I thought it would take me a week or more to make friends since I'm shy," she candidly shares. However, the welcoming atmosphere at i3 meant her reservations faded in just a day. It wasn't solely about academia, but also about forging bonds that might last a lifetime.

The program’s emphasis on mentorship, research experience, and professional development opens several doors. Julie is especially animated about her research journey, saying, "When I first heard that we could publish our research project, I was shocked and excited." She is enthusiastic about her group's research focus on the struggles of the BIPOC community in higher education, aiming to harness technology to better support these students in their academic endeavors.

In today's evolving work landscape, the program's emphasis on distributed team management is more relevant than ever. "We have all gained experience working remotely through the COVID-19 lockdown," Julie notes. To ensure seamless collaboration across different time zones, her team uses tools like Slack and "When2meet."

One of the standout features of the i3 program is its gateway to myriad opportunities – be it the chance to publish research, earn academic credits, or prep for graduate school. For Julie, it's the preparation for grad school that she finds most enticing. It's not just about the degree but the spectrum of possibilities it unveils. Interactions with alumni and diverse university representatives have Julie contemplating her academic journey beyond CW.

As Julie reminisces about her enriching summer experience, she speaks not just of academic growth, but personal enrichment. From kayaking to exploring new cuisines and even thrifting, her time as an i3 Scholar was diverse and fulfilling. "I believe this experience helped me step outside my comfort zone," she concludes.

Julie's story stands as a beacon of inspiration. It underscores the power of dedication, the right opportunities, and the transformative essence of programs like i3. To every CW student, her journey conveys a powerful message: Embrace challenges, pursue your passions, and believe in your potential. The horizon is limitless.