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Emilio Lopez - Alumni Spotlight

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Emilio Lopez of Elkin is a State Farm insurance sales agent with Nick Jitima Insurance and Financial Services, and an alumnus of Surry Community College.

“I was 26 when I enrolled at Surry and a father of two boys, Joey and Liam,” explains Lopez. “I was scared of going back to school after taking a break for so many years. Life experiences encouraged me to go back and realize my goal of graduating. My drive and determination came from setting an example for my children.”

Lopez earned his high school diploma from Elkin High School in 2006. He worked full time at 21 Wireless while a full-time student at Surry. He worked there for four years, and then worked for a year as a sales consultant at Classic Toyota of North Wilkesboro.

“My experience at Surry Community College was outstanding. Surry fostered a warm and welcoming environment,” says Lopez. “The instructors were knowledgeable and made themselves available to answer any questions or concerns. At times, they even worked with my schedule to ensure my success. Their online classes were as effective as any on campus classes, and the instructors were just as helpful.”

Lopez pursued the Criminal Justice Technology program at Surry Community College and obtained his Associate in Applied Science in Criminal Justice in 2017. For the 2016-2017 academic year, he was the president of the LEO Club and a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success.

He was president when the LEO Club had their first “Coffee with a Cop” event. With the help of fellow student Maggie Hoilman and LEO Club members, the event was organized and proved successful. Members of the community had the opportunity to sit with local law enforcement and first responders to ask questions and really get to know their public servants.

Unfortunately, his plans to join the Winston-Salem Police Department didn’t materialize since he was not a permanent U.S. resident at the time he applied. He became a naturalized citizen in February 2021.

After SCC, he worked as an Insurance Verification Representative for a year and a half at Prism Home Medical Supplies in Elkin where he received superior training in customer service and learned to pay attention to detail. He has worked for Nick Jitima Insurance and Financial Services in Winston-Salem since Aug. 23, 2019.

Lopez plans to open his own State Farm office after training at his current job as an agent aspirant. He also hopes to pursue a degree in Business Administration to help in his future career goals.

“I would recommend Surry Community College to other students because it is an affordable superior education,” says Lopez. “All the staff that I encountered at Surry were helpful in anything I needed from the counselors who helped me plan my classes to the ladies at the bookstore who always had a smile on their faces when helping me. Surry offers a welcoming and warm environment that is also fun and challenging.”

Lopez still keeps in touch with people he became close to while attending SCC including Sabrina Terry, Dean of Student Services, and Mary Burton, Lead Instructor of Criminal Justice Technology.

In addition to his full-time job, Lopez is also a firefighter with the Elkin Volunteer Fire Department and is still connected to Surry through a partnership with the fire department and the college to train firefighters.

“The best decision I could have made was to attend Surry Community College. It has opened doors and continues to open doors of opportunities for me,” Lopez said.

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