His mother came in his room and said “Let’s go to the United States, pack up your bags.”
Today, Said Lopez, 23, is majoring in business at Citrus College. Lopez was born and raised in Tijuana, Mexico; there he was born three months premature with cerebral palsy which explains why his left leg did not develop correctly.
“You won’t believe me, but I was born as big as a peanut,” Lopez said. The doctors expected the boy to live only a few months, however, Said proved them wrong.
Lopez was 16 years old when he moved to the United States with his mother Rosario Casamayor and his brother Mario Casamayor.
The family struggled at first, moving several times while adapting to the new culture. It was Rosario who brought her children to America to learn English, believing it would benefit her sons in the future.
Once they settled in Azusa, Lopez enrolled at Azusa High School, quickly making friends by using humor to make others feel at ease with his disability. He graduated Azusa High School in 2008.
It took two and a half years for Lopez to learn English.
Lopez originally had a visa to stay in the United States, but once it expired, his family was left with a painful decision. Either return to Mexico or stay in America as undocumented immigrants.
His family stayed in America and began the uphill climb to become American citizens.
When he arrived at Citrus College, he wanted to be an advocate for disabled students. Lopez thought the best way to help other disabled students across campus was to join ASCC.
Said won the election and became a Senator in Fall 2012. Life is so beautiful, we should take the time to speak to other people and be involved” Lopez said.
“He is an advocate for disabled students and undocumented students,” said Student Trustee Crescencio Calderon.
His duties included meeting with the Institution Effectiveness Department, this department works on educational planning. Also, he was in contact with DSPS giving suggestions to improve accessibility.
“He is a person we can learn from with the struggles he has gone through,” said Calderon “I’ve see him struggle and I’ve seen him champion.”
Said has found it nearly impossible to carry 12 units. Unfortunately, he does not qualify for financial aid. Said possesses the rare ability to take negative experiences and transform them into inspiring life lessons.
Lopez doesn’t let his physical disability nor his illegal status discourage him from doing what he wants.
Instead he pursues his goals to the best of his abilities.
Lopez thinks his strength and perseverance comes from his friends, who give his life meaning. “I have amazing friends who support me emotionally and spiritually,” Lopez said.
He believes that if he is to succeed, it will be by going to a community college and university, by working, studying hard and being positive.
“He really cares about his personal growth” said Commissioner at Large, Community Relations Art Corral, “and is always looking for ways to be a better person.”
Sometimes Lopez asks himself “Why am I doing this?” but then he thinks about the big picture and remembers the goals he must still accomplish.
Those goals are transferring to a CSU and returning to ASCC for unfinished business.
For instance, “The LB building has disabled buttons that don’t often work,” Lopez said. He also points out that the Campus Center does not have accessible bathrooms.
“He is a good kid,” said commissioner of public relations Brandi Garcia, “he has been through a lot of adversity, not having a solid home foundation and other contributing factors like his physical disability; he’s gone through a lot.”