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Navy veteran named 2016 Thomas Moss Scholar

Ivan Lopez walks around TCC’s Norfolk Campus with a purposeful step.

A recent graduate with an Associate of Science in Science and a 4.0 GPA, Lopez used to question whether he could be successful in the classroom.

“My biggest obstacle to starting college was fear of failure. Now I know differently,” he said.

Lopez is now pursuing a bachelor’s in marine biology from Old Dominion University. “If I can do it, anyone can do it. You just have to try and if you fail, you pick yourself up and try again. That’s what coming to TCC has taught me,” Lopez said.

Lopez is the 2016 Thomas Moss Scholar. He will receive a $1,000 scholarship to apply to his studies at ODU.

Ivan Lopez with biology professor Cameron Russell
Ivan Lopez with biology professor Cameron Russell

“Ivan was a leader in the classroom right from the start. He strived for excellence on every assignment and shared his knowledge with his fellow students generously. He even formed study groups, increasing class participation,” said Cameron Russell, biology professor at the Norfolk Campus.

The Thomas Moss scholarship honors the namesake of the Norfolk Campus, which is known formally as the Thomas W. Moss Jr. Campus. Moss was speaker of the House of Delegates in the mid-1990s, when TCC received start-up funds from the General Assembly to put its Norfolk Campus downtown. He served for many years as Norfolk city treasurer.

The Thomas Moss Scholars Fund was established in 2000 by the Norfolk Faculty Senate to recognize a full-time student whose academic achievements and leadership have reached the highest levels. “It’s an honor to even be considered for this award. Thomas Moss loved his city and wanted to make it better. Everyone should emulate his actions,” Lopez said.

A 20-year Navy veteran, Lopez said he has not experienced this level of satisfaction since his time on active duty. A Master at Arms, Lopez was given the Defense Meritorious Service Medal for his last deployment to Baghdad. “I felt fulfilled in the service of my country and I experienced similar feelings of accomplishment when I started succeeding at TCC,” he said.

After retiring from the service, Lopez worked as a federal police officer at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story. “I felt like I was settling in that job. I decided to retrain and finally prepare for my dream job, even at my age,” he said.

Lopez plans a career teaching marine biology or working in industry. “The Navy taught me to apply myself. TCC gave me the opportunity to shine,” he said.

Lopez is the proud father of two sons; Gabriel, a 2015 graduate of ODU and Michael, a rising junior at the College of William and Mary. He is married to Vimarie and the couple resides in Chesapeake.

While at TCC, Lopez also learned to play the violin. His first recital was in May.

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