Theresa Lopes, Student of Distinction

Theresa Lopes

For Theresa Lopes, music is a powerful medium which brings people together and improves lives. She has been especially interested in how music can enrich the lives of the handicapped.

In her Honors Project through the College of Arts and Humanities Honors Program, Lopes has explored and investigated “The Current Status of Music in Special Education”. As part of this project, she reflects on her teaching experience as a volunteer in a local elementary school where she prepared lesson plans for an early-elementary, severely disabled, special education class — providing adaptations for non/pre-verbal students.

“Tess recognizes the value music adds to humanity and understands its role in all lives and the special ways music can enrich the lives of the handicapped. Her work at Weldon Elementary School is exemplary, not only because of the betterment of the individuals with whom she works but also because of the way this work exposes Tess’s heart. It is this rich heart that will put her in good stead in the future as a music teacher,” said Tony A. Mowrer, Ph.D., Professor, Choral Music Education.

At Fresno State, Lopes’ love for music is apparent from her extracurricular involvement and elective ensembles including Wind Orchestra, Symphony Orchestra, Bulldog Marching Band, Ensemble, and Chamber Singers among others. She has also accumulated a long list of awards and honors including the Smittcamp Family Honors Scholarship.

In the Community, Lopes’ has engaged with many organizations including, National Association for Music Education, Valley Children’s Hospital Adaptive Sports Evening of Possibilities Gala, Bulldog Pantry Food Distribution, and many more.

Lopes is excited to bring music to the next generation as a teacher. She has been accepted to the Kremen School of Education to complete her teaching credential. Beyond that, she also hopes to get her Master of Music Education or Conducting.

Theresa Lopes Personal Narrative  

In one sentence, I would say that both personally and professionally, I have a commitment to making a human connection in my life.

Any conflict that exists in this broken world might not exist if each of us lived with selflessness and understanding. Of course, we are all beyond perfect in our individual lives, but every day is a new day to love our neighbor. The aforementioned human connection is this: a person who lives for others. This is what I strive for every day and why I have decided on the career path of teaching. I invest in my family, my friends, and my colleagues, letting them know they are valued and appreciated. I invest in my community and campus to give back and pay forward all of the kindness that has been shown to me. And in my career as a music educator, I shall invest in the lives and futures of my students. Not only will I connect with my students as individuals, but I will help them learn how to make their own human connections.

Music and the arts are expressions of what it means to be human, what it means to feel, and how to communicate feelings in their primal form. There is something in music that drives the heart and soul to react in empathy and expression. As my students share and make music with each other, they will learn harmony, cohesiveness, collaboration, and perhaps their eyes will be opened to what music can do in this imperfect world of war and hate. In any classroom, there will be diversity in the personalities, beliefs, and backgrounds of every student; however in my experience of music classes, although my peers and I were initially strangers with little in common, our friendship immediately deepened through music-making. Despite our differences that the world says should divide us, the thing that brought us together was music. 

Being new to Fresno in 2015, I found it surprisingly easy to get involved and connected in this friendly community through my involvement with the Smittcamp Family Honors College. I am grateful for the financial support and boundless academic/volunteer opportunities that the Honors College has provided me during my college career, and I know that my collegiate experience would not have been the same without the support of the many donors to this program.

The times that I find to be the most rewarding are those when I know that I am making a difference in the lives of others. Throughout my final semester, I have been volunteer-teaching music to special education students at a local elementary school, and this experience has been life-changing to say the least. I visit my class on a weekly basis, teaching my craft and bringing joy to the lives of these students. 

Through my undergraduate studies thus far at Fresno State within the Music Department, I have learned how to design and implement lesson plans like I have done in my volunteer-teaching. I can think of no better way to give back to my community than to volunteer my talents and shed light on the absence of music education within special education. Thus, I am documenting my experience to present to the school board of this district as an advocate for these students.

I am eager to enter my profession as a music educator in public schools. I feel extremely qualified for whatever position I might apply for within the kindergarten through twelfth-grade music programs due to my education and experience. Not only have I completed my degree program for Music Education-Choral/Vocal, but I have gone above and beyond to be a well-rounded musician in all areas. I have participated in a variety of collegiate ensembles such as the Fresno State (FS) Concert Choir, FS Chamber Singers, FS Wind Orchestra, FS Symphony Orchestra, the FS Bulldog Marching Band, the FS Flute Ensemble, and the FS Jazz Ensemble. I have performed on a number of instruments outside of my specialization in voice including flute, horn, mellophone, mallet percussion, and saxophone. I have also gained invaluable insight into my future as a music educator through the various opportunities and courses at Fresno State. The curriculum of the Music Education degree at Fresno State has not only prepared me to teach the fundamental aspects of music literacy and playing technique, but it has also broadened my sense of culture and knowledge of world music. Since my exposure to ethnomusicology at Fresno State, I am inspired to pursue my interest of multicultural music in the public school classroom, encouraging discovery, diversity, and distinction.

At some point on my life’s journey, I have hopes to pursue a Master of Music Education or Conducting. As a lifelong learner, I will also continue my pursuance of professional development in the form of conferences and clinics of various music methods such as those offered by the Dalcroze Society of America and the American Orff-Schulwerk Association along with my local and state conferences. 


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The College of Arts and Humanities provides a diverse student population with the communication skills, humanistic values and cultural awareness that form the foundation of scholarship. The college offers intellectual and artistic programs that engage students and faculty and the community in collaboration, dialog and discovery. These programs help preserve, illuminate and nourish the arts and humanities for the campus and for the wider community.

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