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Health Center Today, July 25, 2011

Medical School Alum Returns to Support Health Career Opportunity Programs (HCOP)

By Chris DeFrancesco

A graduate from the UConn School of Medicine class of 1991 has established an endowed scholarship for graduate students.

Dr. Peter Lopez, now an orthopedic surgeon in Tampa, was back on campus to deliver the keynote address at the July 22 closing ceremony for three Aetna Health Professions Partnership Initiative programs.

The HPPI programs come under the UConn Health Center’s Health Career Opportunity Programs (HCOP), designed to raise awareness and proficiency in science among Connecticut students from diverse backgrounds, provide them a mentoring and support system, and encourage them to pursue health professional careers. HCOP’s director, Dr. Marja Hurley, mentored Lopez when he was a UConn medical student.

“It’s important to give back, to throw the rope back over the wall,” Lopez says. “Because without that rope, I wouldn’t have gotten over that wall.”

Lopez’s gift of $25,000 established the Sharon and Peter Lopez Endowed Scholarship, a merit- and need-based scholarship with priority consideration given to students from underrepresented populations.

“Dr. Lopez has been very supportive,” Hurley says. “This was his idea. He contacted the Foundation wanting to support HCOP.”

“Dr. Hurley’s programs are important because they allow the university to obtain its mission with diversity, and with diversity is strength,” Lopez says.

Following Lopez’s remarks at the HPPI commencement, 40 students accepted certificates of completion:

More information about the Health Career Opportunity Programs is available at

Photo of Dr. Peter Lopez

Dr. Peter Lopez, who graduated from the UConn School of Medicine in 1991, gives the keynote address at the Health Career Opportunities Programs July 22 closing ceremonies. Lopez established the Sharon and Peter Lopez Endowed Scholarship to help students from underrepresented populations. (Click on images for larger views.)

Photo by Janine Gelineau

Photo of Andrew Taliaferro

Andrew Taliaferro, a student at Washington University in St. Louis, discusses his research on the mental health of minorities in Hartford. Taliaferro studied this summer at the Institute for Community Research in Hartford as part of the Clinical Summer Research Fellowship Program, one of the UConn Health Center’s Health Career Opportunities Programs. Granville Wrensford (center) is the associate director of HCOP.

Photo by Chris DeFrancesco

Photo of Gian Grant

UConn undergrad Gian Grant presents her poster “The Need for More School Based Health Centers in Hartford” on the last day of the 2011 Clinical Summer Research Fellowship Program at the UConn Health Center. Grant did her research with the Hartford Action Plan.

Photo by Chris DeFrancesco

Photo of Serena Mistry

UConn undergrad Serena Mistry spent her Clinical Summer Research Fellowship at the Hartford Dispensary studying the drug abuse habits in two Hartford neighborhoods.

Photo by Chris DeFrancesco