Hispanic Heritage Month Spotlight: Tech Sgt. Susan Lopez-Torres

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Ethan Sherwood
  • 17th Training Wing Public Affairs

The 17th Training Wing recognizes and celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month, and how every members’ diversity make the force stronger. Each week from September 15- October 15, the 17th TRW highlights members of different Hispanic backgrounds and experiences.

This week’s spotlight is on Tech Sgt. Susan Lopez-Torres, 316th Training Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge.

What is your job?

I am the 1N4X1A course noncommissioned officer in charge and instructor who guides and mentors brand new joint cyber intelligence analyst arriving from basic military training. I oversee 8 instructors who provide the necessary training and course development to make sure more than 270 Airmen and Guardians are properly prepared annually for cyberspace battle once they leave Goodfellow.

Tell us about your Hispanic Heritage.

I was born and raised in Peñuelas, Puerto Rico. Its culture is a blend of Spanish, African, and Taino influences. To start, the biggest contributor on our culture came from Spain, which gave us our language and several structures, which are still present on the island. For example, one of our most famous Spanish structures is “El Morro” in San Juan. Another big influence came from Africa, and this is visible throughout our dance, music, and cuisine. More specifically, our African influence gave us our main dish: mofongo. Finally, a small portion of our culture is influenced by the Tainos people. They were the indigenous people of the island, and they named the island Borikén. Puerto Rico kept most Taino names given to its towns.

What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you?

To me, Hispanic Heritage Month means visibility to all Hispanic cultures that greatly influence how we live today. It means paying tribute to a community that helped shape art, music, science, infrastructure, and more. In this month, we give light to contributions from Guillermo González Camarena, who invented color TV. We also have Luis von Ahn, the creator of the CAPTCHA test. Finally, we also celebrate artists like Frida Kahlo and her iconic self-portrait paintings.

What’s one aspect of your heritage that you feel very strongly about?

One aspect of my heritage that I feel strongly about is my last name. Puerto Ricans and other Hispanics have two surnames. First surname comes from your father, and the second comes from your mother. I have always been proud of having two last names because it honors my parents.

What Hispanic public figure, past or present, inspires you and why?

It is hard to name just one Hispanic figure that inspires me. However, the most influential moment in my life came from watching Monica Puig play at the Central American and Caribbean Games in 2010, held in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. I had the opportunity to volunteer as a line judge.  At the time, she was well known within the Latin community. In 2016, she participated in the Rio Olympics, where she won the first-ever gold medal representing Puerto Rico. At that time, I was watching the Olympics in Maryland, and even as far as I was from my island, I never felt closer to it.