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Always moving forward

Post Date: August 15, 2012

Lily Lopez (left) and Jessica Mark (right) pose for a pair of smiles at the Nugget

By Marlon D. Deleon, Communications Dept

For a Kinesiology major who has worked mostly in fast food, a retail job in clothing/gifts may not sound like a next step, but sometimes it’s better to take a leap and find out a little bit more about yourself in the process. When Lily Lopez transferred to The Beach in the Fall 2005 semester, she started with the Shops as a sales associate and later transitioned to a clerical position with the Beach Shop. Soon after she was promoted to Student Assistant, and she truly began to find her footing with the Shops. With the opening of the Beach on 2nd Street, Lily transferred to the new location as a Student Supervisor and finished her student employment there, leaving in 2009. Over a year later, in January of 2011, an opportunity opened up, and Lily Lopez came back, but this time as a full-time employee to be the Assistant Buyer for Clothing/Gifts and Special Orders. Kristin Bonetati, Beach Shop Manager, shares, “Having her come back to the Forty-Niner Shops was one of the best things that could have happened and I feel very lucky every day.” She continues on, “Lily is always positive with a huge smile on her face, [regardless of] the project! She is such a pleasure to work with because she is so upbeat and such a hard worker—she is inspiring!”

A two-time recipient of the Bravo Karat Award (Bronze and Silver), Lily’s positive attitude is shared with customers and co-workers alike. Perhaps her 11 years of Folklorico dancing played a role in her success. She has competed multiple times in California and Texas, and has even shared her talents on campus at annual cultural events. Being able to share a smile and make the complex look elegant and graceful are essential ingredients of good customer service. “Before [the Shops], my expertise was just fast food, but I have found that retail is my thing. I love helping customers and always try to think that optimism and a smile are the way to go.” And don’t think that her full-time status keeps her from continuing her education either, “I love learning all I can, and have enjoyed going to the seminars and conferences to continue growing in this field. Networking has been a big part this year. Meeting new people [and] enjoying every minute of it, giving me options to grow within.”

It is one of the goals of the Forty-Niner Shops to provide student employees with lifelong skills, and Lily Lopez is a perfect example of how long-term success can emerge from taking a leap into a new profession.