Alondra Lopez-Perez, 20, of Lexington Park has had her share of challenges in the past several years. She grew up in Puerto Rico, but at the end of 2014 she moved to Southern Maryland. It was the middle of her senior year in high school.

Not only was Lopez-Perez dealing with a new social group and a new school system, she was doing all that with limited language skills. “When I came from Puerto Rico, I could understand almost everything in English,” Lopez-Perez said. However, she couldn’t speak the language, and she struggled. “I even got bullied in school because they thought I couldn’t understand what they were saying,” she said.

Despite those challenges, Lopez-Perez persevered. She had goals and she was looking for how they could be achieved. She enrolled in the College of Southern Maryland (CSM) and was assisted by the Florence B. Trueman Scholarship, and she earned money working two part-time jobs, including one as a student assistant with the Prince Frederick Campus student services staff.

On Jan. 18, Lopez-Perez graduates from the College of Southern Maryland (CSM) with two associate degrees, one in applied science and technology and the other in general studies. She is transferring to the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, this spring to continue her studies in pre-med. Her goal is to become an orthopedic surgeon.

Lopez-Perez was selected to be the student speaker at CSM’s 19th Winter Commencement. She plans to speak to her fellow graduates about the value of perseverance, a character trait with which she is familiar. “At times, life can be rough. But the final reward is what matters,” Lopez-Perez said. “The new graduates need to fight for what they really want to be in life. It’s not going to be a single step, but the promises at the end are worth it.”

For information on commencement, visit For information on the 2018 winter commencement keynote speaker visit Photos from graduation will be posted to after Jan. 18.