In 2008, Noelle Lopez '09 was awarded the prestigious Rhodes scholarship. The first woman in Santa Clara history to have won, Lopez is frequently described by her coaches and professors as someone who breaks the mold, a student who is the embodiment of the athlete as scholar.
While academic excellence may be a fundamental criterion for earning a Rhodes, it's not sufficient on its own. It's the other factors—as Lopez has consistently demonstrated—of character, leadership, service, commitment, and discipline that tip the scales.
Consistently on the dean's list, Lopez, a philosophy major, was lauded for earning numerous academic awards, fellowships, and grants throughout her time at Santa Clara, but her success wasn't limited to the confines of the classroom.
As a key leader and participant in Santa Clara's women's track and cross-country teams, Lopez believes that the intense training on the field instilled a high level of discipline that carried over to all other aspects of her college career.
"Overall, running definitely teaches certain virtues," says Lopez. "Patience is a good one, and there's a certain optimism that has to go along with running. I think the discipline is really huge, too."
Originally from Tucson, Ariz., the former cross-country and track team captain is now studying virtue ethics at Oxford University and says she ultimately sees herself pursuing a career in education.
"In so many ways Noelle is the consummate Jesuit-educated student-athlete," says Dan Coonan, Santa Clara athletic director. "She was a brilliant student, a gifted athlete, and leader on her team. She has a huge heart, which is evidenced by her commitment to community service and social justice. She is an inspiration to us all."
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