Luis Lopez Hopkins, Tacoma Community College’s Outstanding Student of the Year for 2023, spent a significant percentage of his life incarcerated. Partly due to the experience of protecting his community as an incarcerated firefighter, Lopez Hopkins (who goes by “Louie”) made a plan to change his life’s trajectory, which led him to TCC.
He was raised in Tacoma’s Salishan and Hilltop neighborhoods in the early 90s, and when Lopez Hopkins was just 10 years old his family moved to Spanaway to avoid the gang violence and shootings that were beginning to lure him in. He chose TCC because he remembered the impact the college had on his mom’s life when she attended for nursing during his childhood. As a TCC student, Lopez Hopkins soon realized that the college’s mission and vision aligned with his own. As he got more and more involved with campus activities, he realized how excelling in education, getting acclimated to building community partnerships, and growing positive relationships can change a person’s life.
Louie is well known around campus for his good energy, positive vibes, and welcoming demeanor. He helps with everything from working with the justice involved community, helping re-entry students, to being a project manager for the annual HIT the Trail 5K fun run. In the classroom, Lopez Hopkins constantly helps his fellow students that need tutoring, and helps them with any life issues they may be facing. His goals include ensuring the welfare of everyone around him and helping the college increase retention of students with justice-involved backgrounds and students from black and brown communities.
Lopez Hopkins is also involved off campus, choosing to remain in the community that raised him while focusing on making it a positive place. He wants young people to see that they can be represented at TCC, no matter what their background. Lopez Hopkins loves spending time with his kids, and really enjoys food prepping meals and delivering them to unhoused people.
Lopez Hopkins graduated from TCC with his business certificate this spring, currently on the Dean’s List and will have his Associates in 2024. He plans to enter the college’s Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) in Entrepreneurship program and start his own sustainable food business.