Sacramento State graduate seeks to fashion a career despite pandemic

Litzet Lopez would walk on the Sacramento State campus with her sunglasses on and her earphones plugged in listening to Puerto Rican rapper Bad Bunny. Walking at a fast pace, she admired the trees and cool breeze as she headed to her next class, excited to meet with her fellow fashion friends and start another busy day.

Litzet Lopez is photographed at her desk filing online job applications, picture taken in Manteca, Calif., on June 17, 2020. (Photo by Christian Summers) 

But all that came to a close when the novel coronavirus caused colleges across the U.S. to move over to remote learning. It was her final year at Sacramento State, where the 22-year-old was working on her bachelor’s degree in fashion merchandise and management with a minor in marketing.
“I got super anxious,” Lopez said about online learning, “and that’s the biggest thing, and I felt like I was going to be super overwhelmed.”
Lopez has admired fashion since she was a senior in high school in Manteca and her fashion merchandise teacher, Angie Anaya, would tell Lopez how clothes allowed people to express themselves.
“To see my teacher every day at school and learning a lot about what the fashion industry is,” Lopez said, “really helped me find myself with my clothing.”
While attending university she also worked as a sales associate at Nordstrom, with hopes of one day joining its visual merchandise team.
“I think that aspect is what I like the most because it allows me to bring in my creativity and it’s more behind the scenes,” Lopez said. “I think that learning about the layout of the store and what you need to do to attract people is what intrigues me most.”
Lopez was going to have an internship at Nordstrom relating to visual merchandise, but that was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nordstrom also decided to permanently close its Sacramento store, which left Lopez jobless.
“Finding a job, that’s my main focus, finding somewhere I can work and be happy to be honest with you,” said Lopez, “so I can share my passion for fashion with others who are in the same industry.”
Lopez graduated from Sacramento State but had an underwhelming online ceremony instead of the commencement she had been looking forward to since the beginning of her senior year.
“I would feel like I finished my four years walking across that stage, so I think what sucks the most is that I don’t get to do that,” said Lopez, who was still proud to be the first member of her Hispanic family to graduate from college. “From the beginning, they have encouraged me to pursue my dreams, and all thanks to them I’ve accomplished my dream of graduating from college.”

“With all of COVID happening I feel like I’ve lost my path,” Lopez said. “I feel like I had my plan set and my direction of how things were going to be after graduation, but because this happened it disrupted my path.”
But for now, it has been difficult for Lopez to find a job or an internship.
Andrea Saldana is a 2020 graduate of Abraham Lincoln High School and will be a freshman at San Jose State University in the fall.
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