December 2019 Eugene Lopez Huerta
This month, I met with Eugene Lopez-Huerta. He’s a senior and media studies major, and he hails from Las Vegas, Nevada. He’s been a part of house team, the Transitions student leader team, and Latinx Student Union. We talked about home, community, and what we do in the new places we encounter.
Eugene remembers first hearing the word “Vassar” in a remix of a song by Vampire Weekend. It stood out for him, and then the name came up again on a list of schools through the Questbridge program. It was that moment that helped him realize that he might leave his hometown of Las Vegas for college. He’s constantly looking for ways to bring home to Vassar and bring Vassar home—the experiences, the education, and the connections.
I asked Eugene how he defines “home,” since it was coming up so much in our conversation. Thinking back to his first year at Vassar, he said that home was always the geographically bound environment of Las Vegas, the only home he’d ever known. Yet, as time went on, he began to expand that definition to include the people who make him feel like himself, and the spaces they made together. He mused, “it’s funny to say ‘I’m going home now’ and mean going to my terrace apartment, where I live with three close friends… Home is where I can invite the people I care about. It can be a moment in time, like a meal or a meeting. Home can be relationships, too”
It was Eugene’s sense of curiosity and exploration from his very first days on campus that allowed him to find solid ground. He remembers the early moments of “goofing off, exploring, and discovering so much about this new place and the new people who filled it...As the curiosity develops, it turns inward, too. You become curious about yourself, and that turns into introspection, devotion, and commitment. It’s how I learned more about myself and found meaning in these experiences.” He attributes this to the disorientation of finding yourself in a totally new place: “I learned to sit with some discomfort and even fear. Then I tested the waters and learned what happens when you dig in and shake things up.”
Each month in our newsletter, we seek to highlight the work of someone on our campus (whether they be staff, student, administrator, or faculty). Any member of the Vassar community can be nominated, even if they are not yet involved with EPI. If you have someone you'd like to nominate to be featured in the next Community Spotlight, email Cecilia at firstname.lastname@example.org.