Alejandro Lopez has been to Scotland, Ireland and Belgium as a member of the university's award-winning Model United Nations team.
He's met students from around the world while debating international political and economic issues. He's gained a global perspective on U.S. politics and policies. And he's also developed skills - research, analytical thinking, public speaking, leadership and negotiation - that will stand him in good stead no matter where life takes him.
"The Model U.N. class and competitions gave me a lot of great insights into how to apply economic theory and political analysis," says Lopez, an economics major with a minor in political science. "On top of that, the chance to travel and experience a new country each year with the Model U.N. team has given me a college experience I never could have imagined."
As a senior, he will preside as secretary general at the university's three-day Model U.N. for nearly 200 high school students - some of whom Lopez coached when, as a senior at Haverhill High School, he started a Model U.N. program at three Haverhill middle schools.
Lopez has also taken advantage of other hands-on learning opportunities at UMass Lowell. He spent fall semester of his senior year studying and interning in Washington, D.C., through the university's partnership with The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars (TWC).
He interned at the International Trade Administration's Select USA program, which offers market research and advice for free to foreign firms seeking to open up shop in the United States. He produced research reports on the best locations for particular businesses, as well as on economic development agencies that could help them. And he went to meetings with potential investors from India, Spain and Mexico and high-level talks with the Chinese Ministry of Finance.
Lopez also took two Washington Center classes: a professional development class and a course in international trade taught by the top international trade executive at DHL, the global delivery and supply service. His classes included students from Mexico, Panama, Japan, China and Kyrgyzstan.
"I loved my work. It exposed me to lots of networks and connections," he says. "And I really liked learning about all the different cultures."
Next, Lopez plans to work for a few years in economic research before applying to graduate schools. He says he feels well-prepared, thanks to all the experiences he's had inside and outside the classroom at UMass Lowell. A perfect example: an economics class, Foundations of Comparative Regional Development, with Prof. Philip Moss.
"We had to do research on factors that affect development in a community, like industries and employment, labor availability and markets, then report on it," he says. "That prepared me for my internship."