Campus: CSU, Long Beach -- January 9, 2001

Cal State Long Beach Student Completes Undergraduate Studies in 2 Years

Recent reports have noted that many students need five to six years to complete their undergraduate studies, but there are those who need less time to earn that bachelor's degree--much less time.

Veronica Lopez, a President's Scholar at California State University, Long Beach, recently completed her undergraduate studies at the university. A 1998 valedictorian at Wilson High School in Long Beach, Lopez officially earned a bachelor of arts degree in Spanish translation and a minor in criminal justice at the conclusion of the university's fall 2000 semester, just two-and-a-half years (five semesters) after enrolling at the campus as a freshman.

So, what was the hurry? "I like studying," the 20-year-old Long Beach resident explained, shrugging modestly at the mention of her accomplishment. "If I don't have anything to do, I get bored. So, I'd rather study."

And, that's exactly what she did.

It helped that Lopez brought with her 20 units of advanced placement (AP) credit when she entered Cal State Long Beach as a freshman in the fall of 1998. During her two and a half years, she also took at least one class during every winter and summer break.

The largest contributing factor, however, was Lopez' average class load of 20 units during each of her five semesters. The average load for most undergraduate students is 12-15 units. The lone exception was this past semester when she, as Lopez put it, "took a break" with only 16 units.

"I was used to the heavy class load. In high school, I had a lot of AP and honors courses," pointed out Lopez, whose four older siblings have various degrees and whose younger sister is also a student at CSULB. "Besides, I work better under pressure."

Her grades seem to validate that statement. Prior to the fall 2000 semester, Lopez had maintained a 3.9 grade-point average, earning just three Bs during her previous four semesters. She is still waiting on grades from her "easy" semester.

"In my seven years here as president, we have never had an entering freshman finish undergraduate requirements so quickly," said CSULB President Robert Maxson. "We're extremely proud of Veronica and her accomplishments. She is an outstanding example of the type of students that are produced by our local school districts."

In addition to her studies, Lopez found time to hold down a part-time job and do volunteer work at Interval House, a domestic violence crisis shelter in Orange County with administrative offices in Long Beach. She also regularly took part in activities for President's Scholars.

Lopez plans to march in CSULB's 2001 Commencement Exercises in May, but she is not moving on just yet. Lopez is continuing her studies at CSULB, working toward a master's degree in Spanish linguistics and literature. In fact, because of her organized and heavy class load, she has already completed 12 units of her graduate work. She expects to earn her master's degree by next December.

After completing her studies, Lopez said she would like to become an eligibility or social worker for the county. Additionally, she pointed out that the option to teach was also open, and with her minor in criminal justice, she said she eventually wants to work for the INS, possibly as an information officer.

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