Today we are getting to know Olaf Lopez and how he came to be a part of the UC Merced Police Department.
Officer Lopez was born in a small village town in Mexico. His parents struggled to make a decent living leading up to the birth of Olaf. His father was a semi-professional soccer player in the early 1980’s. Although he was getting paid, the salary was not be enough to support his family.
Prior to Officer Lopez being born, his father came to the Merced area to find a better life. He began working in the fields of Merced county immediately.
When Officer Lopez was two years old, he left the impoverished village he was born in. At this time, he came to Merced with his mother and he finally was able to meet his father for the first time. As a young child, his mother and father implemented the meaning of hard work and the value of integrity. Both his parents wanted to provide the best life possible for their family and grant their children with opportunities they never were fortunate enough to have. Olaf’s father started working for Malibu boats in 1985. He was one of the original 10 employees the company hired. He remained with the company for 25 years.
Naturally he began playing soccer as soon as he was introduced to the sport. He was a standout soccer player at an early age. At the age of eighteen he was given an opportunity to try out for a professional soccer team in Guadalajara, Mexico. He was invited to stay in Mexico and develop his skill to eventually play at a professional level.
He knew in his heart he could not leave Merced, the community who accepted him and his family. He decided to decline the opportunity and continue his education locally.
He began taking prerequisite courses at Merced college to become a Radiologist. One of the requirements was to work on site, inside a hospital. It was at this time he realized this career was not what would make him happy.
He felt he needed a deeper connection with the community he was raised in. He began working at Circuit City in Merced where he was directly involved in customer service. He received much gratification in interacting with customers and being able to leave a lasting impression. He began taking criminal justice courses at Merced College. He eventually obtained his degree in Criminal Justice and immediately entered the police academy to become a police officer.
Shortly after graduating the police academy, he was offered an opportunity to work for the Merced County Sheriff’s Department. Although he was able to work with and assist people directly, he felt he needed to connect with people on a more personal level. After working for the Sheriff’s Department for seven years, he decided the UC Merced Police Department would allow him to have the valuable connection he longed for with staff, faculty, and students.
He soon realized many students are first generation college students and have similar backgrounds to himself. Officer Lopez is able to truly connect and relate with students on another level. He is always able and willing to offer them advantageous guidance and advice. He was honored when asked to participate in new student and parent orientations in Spanish and English. Many of the questions students and parents shared with Officer Lopez were able to be answered on a personal level which makes students and parents feel more comfortable with their transition into the UC. He is also an instructor on several topics within the Police Department and enjoys presenting to staff, faculty, and students on a regular basis.
Officer Lopez is determined and committed to make a lasting impression on anyone and everyone he comes in contact with. His big smile and positive vibes are truly contagious. If you happen to see him around campus or in the City, feel to introduce yourself. He is always eager to meet new people and make new friends.