D.J.’s Hero Scholarship Made a Four-Year Education Possible for South High Graduate
Before she was nominated by her high school counselor and marketing teacher, Ana Lopez- Zurita had never heard of The Salvation Army’s D.J.’s Hero Awards.
“Neither one told me they had nominated me, so I didn’t really learn about them (awards) until after I had been selected (in 2021),” said Lopez-Zurita, a sophomore at the University of Nebraska Omaha. “It’s amazing to me how your teachers see things in you that you don’t necessarily see in yourself.
“I doubt I would have applied because I wouldn’t have thought I would be selected. They saw something I didn’t.”
A member of the National Honor Society as well as other community-focused groups during her years at South High School, Lopez-Zurita has made it a point to continue giving back while attending college.
She recently joined the professional business fraternity Delta Sigma Pi and is already finding opportunities to organize and take part in community service events.
“I’ve always believed in giving back to the community, the same way The Salvation Army does,” she said. “I was very involved with volunteering in high school, and while it’s not as easy to make the time while in college, I try as often as I can.”
A double-degree major in marketing and studio design at UNO, Lopez-Zurita said she wants to get into a marketing role when she graduates in a couple of years – but she’d love to do something where she could also use her background in design.
She said she enjoys living on the UNO campus and has joined the Residence Hall Association, which helps choose and plan fun activities for other residents. She’s able to flex her design skills by creating posters and other print and digital communications to promote the events.
Wherever she lands after college, Lopez-Zurita said she intends to use the life lessons she’s learning in college to become more self-fulfilled and aware of the many differences and similarities that exist in the world.
For her, college has been an eye-opening experience – one she knows will only make her more well-rounded as a person and a future professional.
“In middle and high school, I was mostly around other Hispanic students, so college has given me the opportunity to be around a diverse mix of people,” she said. “When I started at UNO, it took me a little bit to get used to everyone. It was kind of a culture shock.
“But the experience has given me and continues to give me a new perspective about people and life. The (D.J.’s Hero) scholarship allowed me to go to a four-year school, be around a truly diverse group, learn about different people and not make assumptions. I’m extremely grateful, and I consider myself lucky to have these opportunities.”
To nominate a student or apply for the 2023 D.J.’s Hero Awards, please visit www.djsheroapp.org. The deadline to apply is March 8.