Sonia Lopez has worked to preserve and share Chicana history and culture in San Diego for over forty years. In 1972, she began teaching Ethnic Studies classes in the Centro de Estudios Chicanos that she helped establish at San Diego State University. Currently, Lopez is recording and preserving the experiences of activist Chicanas in San Diego and across the nation. It is for these reasons that she is being inducted into the San Diego Women’s Hall of Fame as a Cultural Guardian.
As a college student, Lopez became actively involved in the Chicano Student Movement and the Women's Rights Movement. She received her B.A. in Ethnic Studies from Sacramento State University in 1972, her M.A. in Counseling from SDSU in 1975, and her J.D. in 1985. After working as a college instructor, Lopez decided to work with youth as a counselor at Calexico High School and later for the Sweetwater Union High School District. In 1993, she became one the founders of Adelante Mujer (Move Forward Women), an organization that promotes higher education and community involvement for Latina students and their mothers.
In addition to her work with youth, she is actively preserving Mexican American history for public access. She is a member of the SDSU Chicana Archive Project Committee; the archive documents the history of the Chicano Student Movement in San Diego and the struggle over education during the Civil Rights Movement. Currently, Lopez is the director of a campaign to gather the oral histories of San Diego Latinas active during the Civil Rights Movement. Lopez is also a contributor to a nationwide oral history campaign called Chicanas Por Mi Raza led by Maria Cotera at the University of Michigan. Sonia Lopez’s work, empowering Chicana youth as a counselor and mentor, and preserving and promoting Chicana history as an instructor and oral historian, is what makes her a Cultural Guardian