Wednesday, July 18 , 2018, 10:14 am | A Few Clouds 69º


For Arianna Lopez, Girls Inc. of Carpinteria Is a Home Away from Home — and So Much More

Carpinteria High senior recognized for dedication and community service, rewarded with $20,000 national Girls Inc. college scholarship

Arianna Lopez credits her time at Girls Incorporated of Carpinteria with changing her life. “It was so much fun being here,” she says. “The moment you walk in the door, you get to know different types of little girls and what they can teach you.” Click to view larger
Arianna Lopez credits her time at Girls Incorporated of Carpinteria with changing her life. “It was so much fun being here,” she says. “The moment you walk in the door, you get to know different types of little girls and what they can teach you.” (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

Among the colorful hallways, emblazoned with the mantra that “Girls Are ... Strong, Smart and Bold,” 18-year-old Arianna Lopez has been a fixture at Girls Incorporated of Carpinteria for more than a decade, taking advantage of nearly every program and finding a second home there.

Now, Lopez will be leaving the organization that has nurtured her for so long — with the help of a $20,000 scholarship to help her pay for college, which she expects to begin in the fall.

She is just a few months shy from walking across the graduation stage at Carpinteria High School, and she recently was selected as a 2015 scholarship winner in the Girls Inc. National Scholar Program.

Lopez was one of 31 high school-aged young women who were awarded the scholarship from a record number of applicants.

She also joins an elite club of 18 girls from Girls Inc. of Carpinteria who have been named National Scholars in years past.

Lopez’s scholarship is awarded through The Pearl Fund, established in 2013 by fashion designer Georgina Chapman and JCPenney in partnership with Girls Inc.

Lopez applied last fall, and one day her mother called the family together, and informed them that she had been awarded the scholarship.

“I just started crying,” she recalled.

Lopez plans to attend Santa Barbara City College in the fall, and hopes to transfer to UC Santa Barbara after two years.

She’s interested in pursuing graphic design, photography and journalism during her studies.

Lopez grew up in Carpinteria and attended Canalino Elementary and Carpinteria Middle schools.

She admits she spends more time at Girls Inc. than at home — her mother, Ericka Loza-Lopez, is programming director there — and began attending Girls Inc. in kindergarten.

She remembered the first time she walked through the club’s doors.

“It was so much fun being here,” she said. “The moment you walk in the door, you get to know different types of little girls and what they can teach you.”

Lopez remembers begging one of the teachers to join a drama class, for which she was technically too young, but was granted access and “flourished.”

She has been through her share of challenges, including suffering a head injury from a sledding accident in Mammoth that occurred when she was 5 years old.

When she returned to school after the injury, “kids called me ‘Scar Face’ and said some really mean things,” she recalled.

“I  didn’t really know how to deal with it,” she said.

One thing that made that time easier was the support she received from Girls Inc.

Lopez had to wear a hat as the scar on her forehead healed, so the girls at the club organized a “hat party” at which they all wore different hats in support of Lopez.

“I knew right then and there I was accepted,” she said.

Lopez also has dyslexia, and admits she struggled academically until being able to come up with an individualized education plan that accommodates her learning style.

When the City of Carpinteria was working to ban smoking in public places, Lopez became a community force. She attended city council meetings, taking copious notes and even speaking to the council during public comment to encourage the ban, which took effect in 2011.

The smoking ban efforts earned her a community service award from Radio Disney, and she traveled to Los Angeles to receive a “Hero for Change” award.

Lopez admits she’s still got much to do before the end of her school year at Carp High, but is looking forward to the independence of college life.

“It’s still surreal,” she said.

She’s completed 2,600 community service hours, likely breaking a record at the high school. Among the beneficiaries: the California Avocado Festival and Girls Inc.

Lopez’s family is behind her as she begins to think about her college future.

“They’re unbelievably excited, but not surprised,” she said. “They’re like ‘you can do anything’.”

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through Stripe below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >