College:College of Arts and Humanities
Degree Program:Texts and Technology PhD
Alessandra Zinicola Lopez never planned to pursue graduate school. However, after welcoming her son into the world, she wanted to become a role model for him by furthering her education. Her parents never had the opportunity to graduate from a university but encouraged her to obtain a higher education, knowing it would be beneficial to her life and family. The first-generation student aimed to show her son that anything is possible if you put your mind to it.
Lopez’s academic journey has led her all around the country. She began her studies at the University of Utah after graduating from high school but decided to take time off to pursue a music career and travel with her band. Eventually, she obtained her first undergraduate degree in Business Administration and Marketing from the University of Texas at San Antonio. She then moved to Orlando for a six-month internship with the Walt Disney Company and fell in love with the area, staying for a few years. After a brief stint working as a volunteer interpretative guide at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Lopez returned to Florida and decided to pursue an alternate field of study, earning her second bachelor’s degree in Psychology at UCF.
After getting married and becoming a mother in 2015, Lopez started her journey to graduate school by enrolling in UCF’s Professional Writing Certificate program to explore her love of writing. In the program, her professors were supportive and suggested she continue her education by pursuing a master’s degree. Lopez entered the Composition and Rhetorical MA program in 2017, but quickly decided to change to the Technical Communication program, which she graduated from in 2020.
Once again, Lopez was encouraged by her professors to continue her education and participated in the Diverse Academic Opportunities Program (DAOP) for prospective doctoral students from underrepresented populations. Though she was apprehensive about pursuing a PhD, the program allowed her to meet other prospective students making her feel more prepared for the future. “Being part of the program helped me decide to apply to UCF; it helped me become more comfortable with the idea of being at UCF for my PhD, and it made the application process much more understandable,” she says.
When Lopez learned about the Texts and Technology PhD program, she knew it was the perfect fit. “Being accepted into the program felt like I was coming home to a place where I belonged,” she says. She embarked on her doctoral studies in the summer of 2021 and has been on a fast track ever since.
Through her studies, Lopez aims to take an interdisciplinary approach to technical communication. Her research centers around historical and modern domestic texts as technical documentation, including everything from cookery books and manuscripts to chore boards and newborn care tracking apps.
A significant goal of Lopez’s research is to shine a light on the often-ignored domestic labor of mothers within the household. “The technical documents used by women in the past are fascinating and often overlooked as technical communication; it’s a worthwhile task to spotlight them and the issues surrounding domestical technical communication today,” she says. She strives to bring greater recognition and legitimacy to the things people take for granted of those that do labor within the home. When she completes her PhD, Lopez looks forward to spending quality time with her family, whom she thanks for supporting her through the long hours of studying and making her work possible.
- UCF’s Summer Mentoring Scholarship recipient
- Daughters of the American Revolution Centennial Scholarship recipient
- Semi-finalist in Association for Computing Machinery’s 39th International Conference on Design of Communication
- Participated in UCF's Diverse Academic Opportunities Program
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