Lizmarie Lopez-Ortiz is highly invested in providing educational opportunities for underserved students. She has worked as a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) educator for the UMass Extension 4-H Youth Development Program since 2016. Lopez-Ortiz offers programming in several urban settings: schools, after-school programs, summer programs, community centers, and special events such as the ones held at Make-It Springfield, downtown’s makerspace. She works mainly in Springfield and Holyoke, Massachusetts and focuses on educational enrichment to middle school youth interested in STEM who want to increase their confidence in the topics. Over the past several months, Lopez-Ortiz has introduced computer science (CS) and computational thinking (CT) to youth ages 5-18 as part of a first-of-its-kind collaboration between 4-H and Google.
She splits her time evenly between UMass Extension and the Healthy Development Initiative (HDI), a UMass Amherst program at the UMass Center in Springfield. A program in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, HDI is a collaboration between UMass professors, students and community partners in Springfield and Holyoke. Lopez-Ortiz assists in community outreach and enrollment, research, and education projects. Throughout the school year, she organizes neuroscience field trips for middle school youth to the UMass Center at Springfield, hosted under the College Matters for U Program.
The motto “If you want something done, ask a busy person” seems like it was written for Lizmarie Lopez-Ortiz. Her interests are wide and varied. As an undergraduate student, she was a herpetologist, having studied cryptic diversity in dusky salamanders (genus Desmognathus) in eastern Tennessee. She was also a peer mentor for underrepresented students in the sciences and a member of the committee that launched the AEMES Programs (Achieving Excellence in Math, Engineering, and Sciences) at Smith College. AEMES is the first program of its kind at the Smith College; the program assists traditionally underrepresented students to have access to research opportunities in STEM fields. Lopez-Ortiz loves languages and is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese and conversational in French. She is currently working to improve her proficiency in Korean. She also appreciates music and it has led her to learn to play the piano, clarinet, and saxophone. Some of her fondest memories are of playing alto saxophone in the Springfield High School of Science and Technology Band Program.
Lizmarie Lopez-Ortiz is pleased with the opportunities UMass Amherst has afforded her to bring her passions and experiences to other youth like herself. Having lived most of her life in Springfield, she aspires to continue to be a positive influence to the young people she serves.