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Mediating Diversity


Professor, psychologist, community member, and former bearcat, Dr. Susana Lopez influences those around her

Ranging from teaching multicultural psychology at Cal Poly to her activism in the community, Dr. Susana Lopez mediates her way through SLO County.

“Dr. Lopez is a wonderful human being of which I’m glad to have connected with. She’s always willing to help students and create open and safe environments for us,” said senior Kelen Macharia, who has worked alongside Lopez.

Lopez owns a private practice in Atascadero where she focuses mostly working with families and adolescents, ranging from various ages. She similarly applies her knowledge working part time for UCLA doing family-based intervention research: looking at how an intervention reduces the rates of recidivism and improves mental health in youth involved in the juvenile justice system. She is involved in doing cognitive, IQ, and autism assessments, assessing those that meet the diagnosis criteria. She is a bicultural psychologist and has been greatly involved with the Spanish speaking population.

Lopez’s activism is mainly recognized through her leadership role as the co-chair of  the Paso Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee. A committee  which was created by various community members that are ready to create change, following George Floyd’s death in spring of 2020.

“Last year, I moved to Templeton so even though I’m not technically from Paso, in terms of my street address, it’s where my heart is in my commitment, and we’re such a small north county so small that what happens in Paso is going to impact Templeton and what happens,” Lopez said.

Where it started

Lopez grew up in Paso, attending Georgia Brown Elementary School and graduating from Paso High. While attending PRHS she felt out of place at times, trying to navigate her bicultural identity while being involved in classes that were predominately white. However, through involvement in the Avid program, MECHA, and leadership she had great experiences and opportunities that she looks back at and reminisces.

Lopez was a first generation student and through her curiosity, she was one of the first members of the pastoral Youth Commission. The Paso Robles Youth Commission is an advisory board to the city council that is youth-led and collaborates with local government, which seeks to provide opportunities and representation for youth. She joined it because it was advertised as “your voice will be heard by city officials.” 


A lot of her community work stemmed from her motto, “I can do this right,” being her reason to help her community. As Lopez got more involved; volunteering at a food bank and volunteering her time to talk to teachers about issues on campus, she realized that even if she had a small role in the community she could still make a change in people’s lives.

Lopez has recently begun assisting in creating a Field Studies Collaborative (FSC) on Multicultural Studies. Where a team of 12 high school students will be looking at experiences of microaggressions in students at the high school, through a qualitative community based research framework. 

“My hope is that it’s not really about just publishing this research paper and getting credit for it, but really, making it something where it can come back to the community, and be useful in some way,” Lopez said.

As a mother of three daughters, their future, and the youth, she can’t hold back and let it continue how it is. Lopez influences others’ activism; believing that everyone’s activist journey looks different.

“Being an activist doesn’t happen overnight therefore neither do their goals. Dr. Lopez never gives up on her goals and always finds a way to achieve them. I think that’ll carry me through my education, activism, and life in general.”

Kelen Macharia
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