This Chicago Professor Emphasizes the Power of Connectivity

AT&T Blog Team
April 29, 2024
Community Impact

This Chicago Professor Emphasizes the Power of Connectivity

Noe Lopez loves helping students from underserved communities strive for greater possibility in life. As an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at St. Augustine College in Chicago, Lopez sees how education and opportunity transforms lives. And for people in families with low incomes, connecting to the internet can begin a ripple effect to strengthen economic and educational opportunities for generations.

Q: What do you love most about the overall mission of your organization? 

A: We serve the higher education needs of Hispanic and other communities that have long been underserved. Most of our students come from low-income families, are first-generation college students, are in need of supportive services, and many are recent immigrants. St. Augustine is the only institution in the Midwest where students can start taking accredited courses in Spanish, while taking accelerated English courses, and then transition to finish their courses in English. I love this part of our mission, where we are transforming the lives of our students and their families for generations to come.  

Q: In 2024, how important is internet connectivity to the people you serve? 

A: Internet connectivity is very important for everyone in our society and particularly for college students. With the increase of online learning and the fact that most libraries and research tools at colleges and universities are now online, it is necessary for students to be computer literate, to understand the workings of the internet, and most important, to have access to internet connectivity. Most of our student take online courses and are required to perform class assignments that require a computer and internet access.  

Q: When you encounter people who are not connected to the internet, what is the reason why? 

A: The main reasons include they cannot afford a computer and internet subscriptions, they do not have a computer, they have not taken any training on the use of a computer or internet navigation or they are older adults who are intimidated by the technology. 

Q: How did participants react to the digital literacy training event you led with AT&T?

A: It was great. Most of the participants were adults who had not received any training in computer literacy and internet navigation. They were apprehensive and in some cases terrified at the prospect of taking the class. By the end of the class, they were amazed at how much they learned. Not only did they lose the fear of technology, as they discovered their capacity for learning, but they also enjoyed the learning process. The most gratifying reaction was when most of the participants signed up for a more advanced class.  

In this day and age, where computer literacy is no longer a luxury but a necessity, these classes had a tremendously positive impact on the participants’ lives.”

Q: Are you aware of a story about how the work you’re doing with AT&T is helping someone connect to the internet in your community? 

A: As part of a grant we received we provided free laptops and AT&T Hot Spots, which included a one-year free subscription plan, to 475 St. Augustine students in 2023.   

One student told us he lived with his family, and they could not afford an internet subscription. As a result, he had to go to the library, a coffee shop, or visit a friend in order to have internet access to do his homework. With the free Hot Spot and internet subscription he received, not only does he have access to the internet, but also his whole family.  

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