Southwestern Academy: My Home Away From Home

Published : Friday, July 21, 2017 | 12:14 PM

Dervin Lopez and Gordon Guan at Southwestern Academy’s 2016 Science Fair

To understand my choice for attending Southwestern Academy, I must tell you about the Guatemalan Civil War, from 1960 – 1996. It was a war that led my grandparents, my father, and his sibling to immigrate to Los Angeles, California and escape genocide. Due to this, my father, Leandro Lopez, had the opportunity to study at Southwestern Academy and then graduate in 1983. Southwestern Academy is a co-ed private, boarding and day school, with a campus in San Marino, California and Rimrock, Arizona. With enrollment up to 175 students, many of them are from countries such as China, Indonesia, Japan, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Thailand.

Having been raised in Huehuetenango, Guatemala, I have always been interested in traveling around the world and learning about new cultures, but first, I wanted to develop new skills and improve as a person. My school in Guatemala was offering me a good education, but I wanted more. I wanted an education that would challenge me to improve and increase my knowledge in many aspects. Therefore, I knew Southwestern was a place I could thrive in. I have seen the way this school has positively influenced my parents and other family members’ lives, and I am proud to be the tenth Lopez to have attended Southwestern.

I began my studies at Southwestern in January 2016, and I did not know how to communicate with others in English. At the beginning it was challenging to speak with strangers, but my teachers and peers were willing to help me whenever I needed it. Also, with the help of Southwestern’s twelve weeks Summer Adventures Program, I learned to speak English quicker than I expected.

With a small student body, I have met many international and local students, who are now my friends. If I were to see myself before coming here, I would be surprised at how much I have changed. I have not only learned to speak English, but I also found new passions, such as soccer, volleyball, basketball, bass, guitar, and all sciences. This upcoming school year, I am hoping to get more involved in activities and leadership positions.

I am glad to have chosen this school because it has academically challenged me, but it has also become my family. The welcoming environment that I have felt here is something that I will not find in any other school which is why I do not regret coming here, and I wish more people could find a place where they belong.


Southwestern Academy, 2800 Monterey Road, San Marino, (626) 799-5010 or visit










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