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ASU grad and student life photographer breaks ground as first-generation student

Yenifer Macias Lopez stands in a field smiling for the camera and making the peace hand sign

Yenifer Macias Lopez has inspired others through her evocative photography of ASU student life, and by being the first from her family to attend university. This spring, she graduates from ASU's W. P. Carey School of Business with a degree in business (technology). Courtesy photo

May 10, 2024

Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2024 graduates.

When Yenifer Macias Lopez became the first in her family to attend university, she was unsure of what she wanted to study.

“I'm a first-generation, so I didn't know anything about college,” Lopez stated. “So when I got into ASU, I was just looking at the programs, and for me it was more like, what is something that will have a guaranteed job?” 

She was, however, motivated by her family and her journey to push on and graduate regardless of the field. Lopez had her sights set on achieving her degree and securing a job that interested her. Not having the guidance of a college-educated mentor, she had to figure out many things for herself.

“It was inspiring — it was something that, when I was smaller, I always dreamt of doing,” Lopez said. “It just feels overwhelming, because I see a lot of other people already had parents or like a guide, someone who guided them toward what college was about, like they knew more about it. And for me, it was just like another school. ... Sometimes I think back and I'm like, ‘Well, I did it with no help’. So it's like, 'Don't feel discouraged. It's a big accomplishment for you and your family.’”

Set to graduate with a degree in business (technology) from ASU's W. P. Carey School of Business, Lopez has achieved her dream and more. She has found an intersection of her passions in construction, as well as an interest in marketing.

“I would really like to get into something with construction,” Lopez explained. “Like, designing the layouts for houses, especially also thinking of new ways to implement technology to help with construction, like home renovations, or designing household stuff that will look pretty as well serve a functional purpose. I would also like to dive into creating websites for like certain clients or marketing for different clients as well. I feel like that would be really interesting.”

During her tenure at Arizona State University, Lopez immersed herself in a diverse curriculum that covered business, technology, and global management, among other subjects. Her academic journey sparked a deep interest in each of these areas. She was particularly captivated by the intricate nature of global management, including the extensive bureaucracy and regulations that govern international business operations. Motivated by her studies, Lopez is now poised to apply her expertise on the global stage, aiming to navigate and influence the complexities of international markets.

“I had a global management class, which really opened my eyes,” Lopez said. “I learned that there's so much more that goes into everything. There's so much you can do, and there's so much information that can go into creating a company. … Right now, I'm looking at more global positions. I really want to look into global positions where I can travel a lot.”

But these are not Lopez’s only passions. Being a first-generation student, she believes in the importance of our school system. Education has played a big part in Lopez’s life, and she advocates for a world where more people have access to education and the ability to better their lives, as she has. 

“A big root to why a lot of people don't know what they want to do is because of the education system,” Lopez stated. “We have to fix the root of the problem so we can have a better future with a lot of people who feel happier and understand themselves economically.”

On top of being a passionate student, Lopez still takes time to relax and enjoy her hobbies. Lopez is a photographer for the ASU Student Life team, and has worked hard to make amazing content. She was a member of the Poly Photo Club as a first-year student, and in her junior and senior year, played with the Polytech Volleyball club. And if Lopez wasn't out being active, you could find her at the American Indian Student Support Services branch of the Polytechnic Academic Center studying or hanging out with friends.

“I think people should definitely try to get out of the room, have fun, maybe not use their phones as much. Try clubs at ASU; they're really good,” Lopez said. “Some clubs are really involved and they have some really good opportunities. Get involved, like taking advantage of the ASU gyms. ... There's a lot of activities, and they always have classes, like wellness classes, that you could definitely take. And they're really fun!” 

Lopez has not been shy in exploring the opportunities ASU has to offer. Immersing herself in the community and engaging with activities that interested her helped to create a positive college experience. 

”Have fun with school while you can,” Lopez explained. “As long as you have your core classes, take some extra classes. That stuff could interest you, because you never know if you want to change your major into something else — that's a good opportunity to venture into it.”

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