Olympic gymnast Jessica Lopez leaves Daniels better prepared for her career

Balance is everything for Jessica Lopez. Whether she’s running her business, working in the classroom or raising her daughter, Lopez is able to move through her priorities with grace and purpose.

Those same qualities can be applied to Lopez’s career on the balance beam.

The Olympic gymnast knows what it takes to reach the upper echelon of her craft. After all, she competed in three Olympic Games: 2008 in Beijing, 2012 in London and 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.

Lopez tested the limits of her multitasking skills over the last few years, enrolling in two separate graduate programs, working as an entrepreneur and having a child at the same time.Jessica Lopez

“Being a high-level athlete provided me with skills and qualities that I was able to transfer and benefit from in an MBA program,” she said.

Now, life is set to slow down a bit. She’ll graduate this week from the Professional MBA (PMBA) program at the Daniels College of Business, leaving with a degree and a new perspective.

“This journey really honed my time management skills, my resiliency and my ability to adapt to anything,” she said.

Lopez first came to the University of Denver in 2005 as a student athlete on the gymnastics team, studying psychology and business administration. Originally from Venezuela, she arrived at the University without speaking any English, but quickly fit in. As an athlete, Lopez earned five All-American honors across three NCAA National Championships appearances and won 83 individual titles during her career. That number is among the program’s all-time leaders.

Following her undergraduate degree, Lopez spent the next decade training for and competing in the Olympics. Then, she embraced the entrepreneurial lifestyle with her business, JLO Performance. She works in supply chain for gymnastics apparel and helps organize sports events. Lopez is also a gymnastics judge and has coached at the University.

But she decided to return to Daniels in 2022 for the part-time PMBA program, looking to advance her career on the ethics and compliance side.

“My decision to come back was driven by the strong reputation for excellence in business education, and I really liked the emphasis on ethics and sustainability,” she said.

Lopez would pair her degree from Daniels with a master’s degree in Law, Ethics and Compliance from the University of Colorado Law School. To add more to an already full plate, she had her first child last year.

“For one year I was pursuing both master’s at the same time, and was pregnant and having my daughter,” she said with a laugh.

So, how did she manage her time? She applied lessons from her career on the mat to persevere. The first that come to mind—multi-tasking and time management.

“I built that through my gymnastics career, both of my master’s and now motherhood,” she said. “I’m able to prioritize what I need to do, roadmap my tasks and then handle them one at a time. And then I don’t sleep until I do what I need to do.”

Despite her busy schedule, Lopez only missed three weeks of school following the delivery of her daughter. She credits Daniels with helping her craft her degree to fit her complex schedule. Outside of the classroom work, Lopez was also granted the opportunity to do a nine-month internship with the Athletic Department, focusing on compliance.

Ahead of her Academic Hood Ceremony this month, Lopez reflects fondly on the friends she’s made in her cohort and the experiences they’ve shared together. Namely, a recent trip to South Africa. She’s also thankful for the College’s focus on ethics, as she’s hoping to continue to grow her career in the compliance space. Lastly, the real-world education at Daniels has prepared her to excel in the workforce.

“I feel way more prepared to take on complex problems in the business world than I was before,” she said.

After graduation, Lopez is looking to work in the world of governance and compliance, leveraging her expertise to have an impact in an area she’s passionate about.