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Emma Lopez de Delgado

#258 Emma Lopez de Delgado, Class of 2016
(AS 2016 - Architectural Technology AS 2016 - Architecture)

Emma Lopez de Delgado likes to work with her hands. Her father also worked with his hands, in the fields as a watermelon cutter, to provide for the family of eleven. As a child, Emma spent countless hours creating intricate paper cut outs and dreaming of becoming an architect. Her parents insisted she choose another path, concerned a woman would not succeed in a male dominated industry. So, after finishing high school, Emma put her dreams and aspirations on hold to pursue a vocational degree in computer programming, get married and make family her priority.

Years later, following a move to the Coachella Valley, Emma’s dreams of higher education and career returned. She enrolled in a class at College of the Desert, her sights set on an associate’s degree in

Architectural Technology. Even though financial and transportation obstacles made attending classes very challenging, she was determined not to set aside her dreams once again. Without access to a car,Emma hitched a ride with a friend to get to and from classes. She spent many hours on campus at the computer, making sure to complete her homework before returning home to care for her family.

Although attending college presented many challenges, Emma believes it was a blessing in her life. She credits support from family as her motivation to educate herself and become a better person. “I’m so grateful for my parents who set the example and made me the person I am today”, Emma says. “And for my sisters, who have always been there for me. And especially for my husband and son who have been by my side spoiling me, supporting me, and always ready to pick up the pieces every time I got discouraged.”

Emma also appreciates the many resources available to help students at College of the Desert, the wonderful staff who are eager to assist, and the professors who go beyond their responsibilities to help students succeed. Architecture Professor Bert Bitanga recognized Emma’s talent and determination early on and encouraged her to stick with it. “I’m very, very proud of her”, Professor Bitanga says. “There are many students we see each year in our classrooms, and then there was Emma. Every class she took with me, she excelled. I know how hard she worked and I am certain she will succeed.”

Two years after starting her degree program, Emma made it to the top of her class. She was selected student speaker, graduating with a 4.0 grade point average. At commencement, with more than 25 proud family members alternately crying and cheering her on, she delivered an emotional speech filled with hope and inspiration. “Never give up, she told the largest graduating class in COD history. You can believe in your dreams.” As Emma heads to Cal Poly Pomona to pursue a four year degree in architecture, she knows the challenges are not all behind her. But, she also knows hard work will see her through.

“I can say with certainty that dreams do come true because I am now one step closer to fulfilling mine.”