Cutler Bay native completes prestigious grad fellowship

Cutler Bay native Emma Lopez has completed the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s nationally recognized and highly competitive Graduate Fellowship Program.

Chosen from hundreds of applicants from across the country, Lopez, who recently received a master’s in environmental engineering from Florida International University, was the 2012- 13 CHCI – Shell STEM Graduate Fellow, completing a nine-month fellowship split between the National Science Foundation and the Washington, DC, office of Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas).

The nation’s premier Hispanic youth leadership development and educational organization, CHCI picked Lopez as one of only eight recent graduates for the program; other fellows worked on health, housing, law and education issues. Their intensive work experience, enhanced by weekly leadership training sessions with national policy leaders, was capped off by the CHCI Young Latino Leaders Summit Series, Apr. 15, on Capitol Hill, during which the fellows, members of Congress and subject matter experts participated in a range of in-depth discussions addressing some of the most critical issues facing Latinos today.

“My experience as a fellow has broadened my horizons in my career and made me more aware of the possibilities that are out there for me to achieve,” Lopez said.

“The Summit was a wonderful opportunity for me to make connections with professionals in Washington in my field, who in turn have led me to aspire to greater goals,” she added.

“The last election demonstrated the growing power of Latinos, with record turnout at the polls and 11 new Latino members of Congress, from both parties,” said Esther Aguilera, CHCI president and CEO. “But the story does not end with one election, and CHCI is committed to creating a pipeline of talented Latinos with unmatched public policy experience and leadership development training to lead this country into the future. This class of fellows is a part of the new generation of American leaders, and we look forward to their future achievements.”

At the Summit, Lopez presented a white paper, “Renewable Energy: Helping America Thrive” in which she discusses the benefits of the government incentivizing renewable energy development — namely because U.S. businesses want cleaner energy sources as well as stability in the marketplace.

Lopez also discusses how colonias — poor border districts with cheap housing stock — would be suitable incubators for increased usage of renewables, since they are often off the grid and are in need of locally available energy resources.

CHCI’s Graduate Fellowship Program provides all participants with round-trip transportation to and from Washington and a monthly stipend of $2,900 to help cover housing and local expenses. All this is possible through longstanding support from partners such as the American Petroleum Institute, PepsiCo Foundation, Shell, Amgen and Southwest Airlines – the official airline of CHCI Leadership Development Programs.

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI), a nonprofit and nonpartisan 501(c)(3) organization, provides leadership development programs and educational services to students and young emerging leaders. The CHCI board of directors comprises Hispanic members of Congress, nonprofit, union and corporate leaders. For more information call CHCI at 1-202-543-1771 or visit

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