Lidia Lopez, ‘14

“I selected my specialty because I was inspired day after day by the strength and resiliency of patients and their families fighting cancer.” 

Lidia Lopez ’14 was the first member of her family to attend college, where studied English and Spanish Literature at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Her parents immigrated to the United States in 1981 during the Salvadoran Civil War and now live in Santa Clarita, Calif. with her younger sister. Prior to arriving at the Yale School of Nursing, Lopez had never lived anywhere besides California. While, leaving her family proved to be a difficult task, Lopez is passionate about learning and is thriving at YSN. 

During her time at UCLA, she volunteered at an ObGyn clinic as a translator and health educator. However, Lopez didn’t become interested in pursuing a career in health sciences until she experienced the loss of a family member to pancreatic cancer. She decided to write about it, and needed to find research on the topic. This is where her interest began. 

“While I did not expect this to be a life-altering experience, that certainly proved to be the case. Not only was I introduced to the growing field of cancer research, but my perspective was also altered as I observed bench-to-bedside patient care,” said Lopez. 

After her time at UCLA, Lopez continued her education studying Biology at California State University Northridge. Still, Lopez had no intentions of becoming a nurse practitioner; her plan was to attend medical school. 

However, her time at the University of Southern California’s (USC) Norris Cancer Center influenced her decision. “Their work with cancer patients impacted me significantly. I had not seen this side of nursing before, and I was inspired by the autonomy of their practice, their clinical expertise, and the quality of care they provided to patients,” Lopez explained. 

Lopez then began applying to graduate nursing programs, keeping in mind her experience at Norris. “I selected my specialty because I was inspired day after day by the strength and resiliency of patients and their families fighting cancer,” she said. She applied to many programs, but was most inspired at her visit to YSN. 

During her visit to YSN, Lopez attended a lecture by Professor Linda Honan Pellico, PhD, MSN, CNS-BC, RN. “I knew that if I wanted to be a great APRN, the best place for me to be was around nurses like Linda who I wanted to model myself after,” she explained. Lopez is now enrolled in the Graduate Entry Prespecialty in Nursing (GEPN) program where she is in her first year of the Adult Advanced Practice Nursing (AAPN) Oncology Nurse Practitioner track. 

During her time at YSN, Lopez hopes to gain research and clinical experience, with help from the distinguished faculty members at the school. In addition to her interest in research and clinical experience, Lopez hopes to get involved with the international program to study traditional Chinese medicine practices in Hong Kong. She wants to expand her knowledge in order to provide alternative therapies to cancer patients as they undergo treatments or manage survivorship. 

Lopez works as a research assistant on the Yale Fit Study with Professor M. Tish Knobf, PhD, RN, FAAN, AOCN. The study examines exercise interventions as a means of improving health outcomes for women who have cancer or are cancer survivors. 

Ambitious and driven, Lopez aspires to work as an oncology nurse practitioner in the future, specifically with patients who have cervical or breast cancer. In addition, she hopes to work with Latino populations, as well as one day, internationally. Lastly, Lopez plans on continuing her education and receiving her doctoral degree in oncology nursing research.

Although the start of her interest in cancer research started with the loss of a family member, she now has plans to work in the field of oncology research and nursing with the goal of improving the lives of those who have cancer or are cancer survivors. 

Lopez was inducted into the Sigma Theta Tau chapter of Delta Mu.