Raymond Lopez

Chicago Alderman, 15th Ward

It may seem like a big leap from shoveling horse manure to serving as an elected official, but Alderman Raymond Lopez says he loved his first job as much as his current career.

Lopez, originally from Chicago, now serves as the alderman of Chicago's 15th Ward, home to YJC partner Gage Park High School. Lopez got his beginnings, though, shoveling manure at a horse stable near his home in Lockport, IL in seventh grade.

"I loved it because I could ride the horses," says Lopez, as he explains that free horse rides were his only payment for the work he did.

Lopez's first paid position came when he was 16 and worked in an office at Willis Tower doing clerical work. He says that some of the most important skills he learned in this position were a strong work ethic, people skills, and time management.

Lopez stresses that while he always knew he wanted to be involved in politics, he gained invaluable understanding at his first job of the importance of customer service.

"There's such a strong link between customer service and public service," says Lopez.

His advice to YJC clients?

"Everyone needs a first start."