Interview with Nishly López, Class of 2023


Nishly López



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Oral history interview with Nishly López, Class of 2023. The interview was conducted during the summer of 2023 by Ayushi Shukla, then a student employee at Milner Library. Born in Chicago, López moved frequently during her childhood before attending Lane Tech High School. Following high school, she pursued an undergraduate degree in Spanish at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign before embarking on a career as a medical interpreter at Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana. In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic she decided to leave the medical field and enroll in ISU’s College Student Personnel Administration (CSPA) program.

During her time at ISU, López lived with her brother, who was also a student at the university. She served as an advisor for Pride and the Association of Latin American Students (ALAS) through the newly-founded Multicultural Center. She reflects on two situations involving minoritized students that she feels university administration mishandled, namely the disappearance and suspected murder of African American graduate student Jelani Day and an incident of homophobic graffiti perpetrated by the Kappa Sigma fraternity. She emphasizes the importance of authentic leadership and meaningful action in addressing issues faced by students.

López highlights the impactful role of her fellow graduate assistants and classmates, expressing gratitude for their camaraderie and shared experiences throughout their graduate program. She also praises Gavin Weiser, a faculty member in the CSPA program, and her experience in a Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies class on Black feminist thought.

Reflecting on her time at ISU, López expresses how the experience had solidified her career path and helped her overcome doubts about her chosen field. She acknowledges the impact of her work at the Multicultural Center on her confidence and sense of purpose, emphasizing the importance of advocacy in her life. However, she also discusses challenges faced by graduate students, such as the necessity of juggling multiple jobs and coursework, and advocates for a reallocation of resources within the university to better support underrepresented communities.

Interview Date



  • Introduction; López’s early life, undergraduate experience, and decision to pursue graduate school at ISU: 00:00-03:29
  • Selecting ISU’s College Student Personnel Administration program; career after finishing undergraduate degree: 03:29-06:59
  • Impressions of university president Terri Goss Kinzy; university administration missteps in response to death of Jelani Day and homophobic graffiti incident: 06:59-17:21
  • Participation in extracurricular organizations: 17:21-19:48
  • Living with her brother while he was an undergraduate student at ISU: 19:52-21:39
  • Notable faculty members: 21:39-26:11
  • Finding Latino community and mentorship at ISU; graduate cohort: 26:31-31:48
  • Free time activities and hang-out spots: 31:48-33:41
  • Plans following graduation: 33:41-35:36
  • Impact of ISU experience: 35:36-40:15
  • Desire for ISU to decrease graduate students’ work hours and better fund DEI efforts; conclusion: 40:15-44:30

Interview with Nishly López, Class of 2023