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College of Social Sciences & Interdisciplinary Studies California State University, Sacramento

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Dean's Award Winner

Mario Lopez-Mendez

DEGREE/MAJOR: BS/Nutrition and Food

At Sac State, Lopez-Mendez balanced his stellar academic performance with service to the University and beyond. He served as a community health educator in low-income areas, coordinating nutrition classes, developing training guides, and collecting survey data. He interned at an urban farm, harvesting crops for local food banks. He also received training through the College of SSIS Student Success Center to help peers gain access to academic advisors and other campus resources.

The urban-farm experience was one of his favorite endeavors, as it furthered his understanding of “how food makes it from the soil onto our plates,” he said.

“Food for me is sacred,” said Lopez-Mendez. “I developed a new appreciation for the labor required to produce our food. Those kinds of experiences help us reconnect with the earth.”

Lopez-Mendez also took on campus leadership roles, including with the Sacramento State Club de Español, where students are encouraged to use their academic skills to create events that build professional experience and social connections. He also served as social chairperson of the Ballet Folklorico de Sac State, a cultural club focused on traditional Mexican dance.

As he looks back on his time at Sac State and embraces his new career, Lopez-Mendez encourages students to seek support and mentors as they navigate college life.

“The key to my success was not necessarily my ambition or my academic prowess, but the support I received from family members, friends and my professors,” he said.

“There is no shame in asking for help.”

WHAT THE NOMINATOR SAYS: Lopez-Mendez has “a passion for helping others,” which played out in his commitment to promoting food security in the community, said Lynn Hanna, chair of the Family and Consumer Sciences department.

- University Communications staff

Nathalie Mendoza

Mario Lopez-Mendez

(University Communications staff)