The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

Campus Spotlight: Vasco Lopes

An Irish kilt, a white tee and the brothers of Sigma Alpha Mu clapping to the rhythm of a fast-paced Irish jig. It was not an everyday situation for Vasco Lopes.

“It was the Greek God competition of spring 2004 and I was competing against a break dancer,” Lopes said. “There is no chance of me ever doing that again. It was out of character for me. I’m kind of shy.”

A current senior, Lopes is a psychology major and sociology minor. He is a chair in his fraternity Sigma Alpha Mu and he is the president of the Interfraternity Council.

“When I finally chose my major I knew psychology was for me,” Lopes said. “I’ve always had a profound interest in why people do what they do, and besides, I really enjoy helping others.”

Lopes chose to attend St. John’s University because the school offered him the most academic money.

“I mean other schools were offering me a full ride to play soccer on an athletic scholarship, but I didn’t want a compromise,” Lopes said.

After deciding on St. John’s, Lopes remembers his first semester as an ironic experience.

“When I first arrived on campus I was completely anti-Greek, I was mostly influenced by the media,” he said.

Nonetheless when his suite mate convinced him to pledge for his fraternity Lopes said, “I never imagined I would end up so involved in Greek life as I am today.”

Lopes especially enjoys his ability to help others through his leadership position.

“As a leader in my fraternity, I take pleasure in giving direction to my younger brothers, so that they may have a better experience than my own.”

Lopes is part of a BA/MA program and plans to receive a degree in General Experimental Psychology and then obtain his Ph. D. in psychology.

“My favorite classes I would have to say are cognitive psychology with Dr. [Rex] Stanford and history and systems in psychology with Dr. [John] Hogan,” Lopes said.

Personally and academically, both courses were a challenge for him.

“Cognitive psychology was one of the greatest ordeals I have ever been through in my life,” Lopes said, remembering how he was on the verge of failing his first graduate course after the results of his first exam.

“It was on a whole separate level of thought, but I was too stubborn and proud to drop the course, and eventually by working my butt off I ended up with an A,” Lopes said with pride.

Lopes also has a job at a mental health agency in Philadelphia as a residential supervisor and social rehab therapist. He works there during both the winter and summer breaks. In this position, he has encountered people with various distinct disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

“It’s the greatest thing that could have ever happened to me,” Lopes said. “I have learned so much from this job experience that it has made a mark in me both personally and professionally.”

Aside from studying, working, and being a leader Lopes is also known to have a fun side, frequently joking with his friends. As one of his Sigma Alpha Mu brothers, James Laporta, exclaimed jokingly, “Vasco is one of the sexiest guys in the organization!”

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