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Lopez gift helps migrant students

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Minerva Lopez’s mother, a migrant farm worker, had dreams that her daughter would make a better life for herself. Minerva (’68, Arts and Letters/Education) was raised to believe she could do anything and to never accept the word no. This philosophy guided her to MSU, later to a career as a tireless civil rights activist and federal employee, and now to become the creator of a legacy of opportunity for future migrant students who attend MSU.

            This fall, Minerva made a commitment of a planned gift to Michigan State University to establish the Minerva CastaHeda Lopez and the Minerva CastaHeda PiHa (her mother) Migrant Opportunity Endowment. The fund will support emerging and critical needs of MSU migrant students where the assistance will make the greatest impact.

            Minerva well-remembers her first visit to campus. As part of a field trip to Lansing for a summer high school government course she was taking in Saginaw, she came to the MSU Union for lunch. “I wandered off to Beaumont Tower,” she recalls, “and I was so taken by the beautiful campus. It was like a dream to me and I did everything possible to get back there.”

            As an MSU student, Minerva faced significant challenges but remained determined to graduate. She chose an education track in order to speed her progress and get out into the world to help the less fortunate. She worked for 28 years in Washington, D.C. in various federal positions including as a bilingual paralegal and legal research assistant. She became the administrator of the Homeless Educational Learning Project in Austin, Texas, and also the Homeless Children’s Advocate for Austin Public Schools.   Throughout her rich career, which also included stints as a teacher, Minerva has found time to volunteer for schools and agencies to help Hispanic people.

            Through her gift, Minerva hopes to inspire students who are the first generation in their family to attend college by helping them develop the tools they need to be successful.

            For more information about making a gift to support migrant students, contact Director of Development for Student Affairs and Services Ann Marie Lindley at (517) 355-7535.