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Mariela Lopez
San Antonio, Texas

"I loved to write timed essays" in high school says English major Mariela Lopez. While other people were groaning, Mariela anticipated the challenge. It was a love for writing and a reading of Charles Dickens' David Copperfield that led her to the decision to pursue a degree in English.

The decision to attend Baylor came when she attended Premiere. "There was no turning back for me. That was the seller." She recognized opportunities for spiritual interaction were available here. In her American Literature course, for example, students have been assigned to sit in silence for one hour, read Walden by Henry David Thoreau, and reflect. "To have your own spiritual encounter as a homework assignment, that's incredible to me," says Mariela.

She draws an immediate connection between the integration of faith and learning. "The big classic books, they're based on the faith of the authors or the changing spiritual moments of the time. I don't see how you can study literature without looking at the spiritual aspects."

With the Beall Poetry Festival, known for bringing Nobel Prize winners and poets laureate, and the Armstrong Browning Library, with many first-edition prints, "They cater to English majors here," says Mariela. She also says her professors make an effort to know her. They "want you to learn the material, not just spit it out for a test." Even the building where she studies seems to have a bit of influence on her studies. "I think if it had a tower with a flag, it would be a castle."

Though she is still determining her career path and doesn't plan to teach like many English majors do, she wants to make sure others know there are numerous career options. The English Department's Web site lists several, including working as a professional writer or consultant. "The world needs good readers, good writers," says Mariela.

Mariela already is taking upper-level courses but says there's no way she can remember everything she reads. "I think for that moment when you're reading literature, and you get something out of it, it's almost like a Bible study. You're not going to memorize all scripture, but when [something] ™ applies to your life right then ™ it helps you grow as a person over time; it improves your individual self."