Who will lead our communities in the future? While no one knows for sure, we are seeing glimpses of a bright future through the eyes of emerging leaders.

Daniel Lopez, center, accepts the Award for Inspiration at WMCAT’s iBall

Daniel Lopez, WMCAT alumnus and current University of Michigan student, portrayed humble and honest leadership so eloquently from the stage at WMCAT’s iBall gala on March 22nd. Guests were moved to a standing ovation following his remarks upon receiving the WMCAT Award for Inspiration, in honor of former WMCAT board chair, James C. Welch.

“Fear holds us back, it keeps us from speaking up and taking action,” expressed Daniel. “WMCAT helped me realize that when you speak up, you find opportunities.”

While at WMCAT, Daniel traveled to Yellowstone National Park with a group of WMCAT students who were later invited to Washington D.C. to speak with Debbie Stabenow and other representatives about the importance of parks in our communities. During that time, Daniel also spoke with the representatives about immigration and his undocumented status; a moment when he stopped fearing other’s knowing his personal story.

Daniel’s passion for immigration has led him to pursue a degree at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor studying sociology with a minor in community action and social change. He is currently a research assistant for Jason De Leon, an anthropologist working on the Undocumented Migration Project.

Daniel’s future plans include earning a master’s in social work and public policy. He wants to work with youth and would like to create policy changes that benefit everyone, not just those in power.

Like Daniel, new and emerging leaders are coming out of WMCAT, as students start seeing their future in new ways.

“The four years I attended WMCAT is something I treasure and think about often when I am taking a picture, sketching or when I am simply expressing myself,” shared, Daniel.