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Generosity, altruism, and math attracts University of Chicago QuestBridge Scholar to Joyce Foundation for summer internship


By Lilly Athamanah, Joyce Foundation Communications Associate

When Sharon Lopez began her senior year at Aldine High School in Houston, Texas in 2014, she along with many of her peers read brochures, met with mentors, and toured campuses to find out which college would be home for the next four years.

Lopez had the good fortune of being chosen as a QuestBridge Scholar for the University of Chicago’s class of 2019. QuestBridge is a non-profit program aimed at matching deserving students with scholarship opportunities to attend some of the best higher education institutions in the country. Luckily for Lopez, the University of Chicago (UChicago) was the only school she applied for during her college hunt.

“When I looked into UChicago, I was attracted to everybody’s genuine passion to learn and thrive. Since being there, I have not been disappointed with my choice,” said Lopez. Needless to say, UChicago was a perfect match.

Fast forward to her sophomore year in college: Lopez is now an Economics and Statistics major at the university and enjoys exploring her second home of Chicago. She is a math-oriented person by nature—both her majors provide key ingredients to her interests in studying how decisions influenced by societal and human behavior can be quantified through mathematics.

This year, her love of math led her to a golden opportunity to explore investments through UChicago’s Ariel Scholars Program. Lopez joined several students in the program’s pilot year, endowed by John Rogers, which aims to encourage diverse groups of students to explore and consider careers in investments. Ariel Scholars offers students investment workshops, networking lunches, event opportunities, and funds summer internships with investment departments of foundations and endowments.

Due to her interest in nonprofits, Lopez was matched with the Joyce Foundation and McCormick Foundation for a 10-week shared internship at both organizations for summer 2017.

At Joyce, Lopez has learned much about the field of philanthropy and investments through grantmaking, especially in terms of work culture and foundation terminology. She noted, “I came into the internship in hopes of obtaining a deeper understanding of investments, discovering my fit and interests within the field, evolving as a professional, preparing for longer term goals, and absorbing as much as possible from Jenny, who has been a magnificent mentor to me.”

Jenny Patterson, Chief Investment Officer of the Joyce Foundation and Lopez’s supervisor, assessed, “It has been a pleasure to take part in the inaugural year of the Ariel Scholars program. Sharon is a bright and curious individual, who has been quick to understand the intricacies of the Foundation’s investment program, and how it relates to the philanthropic endeavors. She has definitely been an asset to the team.”

As Lopez’s summer comes to an end, she reflects on the excellent match with Joyce. The foundation’s mission resonated deeply with her and coincided with her passion of being involved with programs and organizations striving for betterment of society and making impacts on people’s lives.

“I know I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for the generosity and altruism of other individuals that felt the same way. I’ve learned so much at Joyce and would certainly say that I am getting what I came for,” Lopez said.

She will return to UChicago in the fall to begin her junior year.