Alexis Lopez is a self-described “MSK baby,” due to the 23-year career he’s built at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK), as well as the three decades his mother, Amarilis, served as a patient financial representative at MSK before retiring in 2014.
“MSK has always been part of my life. I have always been around MSK, and MSK has always been around for me,” says Alexis, a regional manager of material management and supply chain at MSK locations in New York State and New Jersey.
A Journey of Hope
Alexis’ life started in Queens, New York, where he was born to parents who emigrated from the Dominican Republic to the United States in the 1960s. Their journey is familiar to many first-generation children — and an extreme source of pride for Alexis and his brother.
“[My parents] came to a country not knowing the language, customs, or culture, but they eventually made the U.S. their own country and started a life and family,” says Alexis. “To walk into the unknown took courage and faith, and for that, I will always be inspired by my parents’ journey.”
The Lopez family settled in Spanish Harlem, in upper Manhattan, where Alexis enjoyed a childhood surrounded by extended family and friends. His parents’ house often was the gathering spot for get-togethers. “I learned at an early age that my Latino family loved to eat, dance, and enjoy each other’s company,” says Alexis. With five siblings and the continual visits from uncles, aunts, and cousins, Alexis jokes: “Privacy was hard to come by — but I was never lonely.”
Through these parties, Alexis’ parents taught him the value of family. Alexis’ father, Teodulo, also instilled in him the value of working hard and encouraged him to always take pride in his appearance.
“My dad was stern, but not in a bad way. He had a very traditional way of thinking. He would teach us to present ourselves in a certain way. Lessons like: ‘You are wearing a button-down shirt — tuck it in.’ ‘Get a regular haircut.’ ”
Making Mobility Matter at MSK
In 1999, Alexis reached a pivotal turning point in his life. After attending the State University of New York at Old Westbury for two years, he decided college wasn’t the best fit. Alexis’ mother encouraged him to apply to MSK.
That year, he secured a role in Environmental Services. After Environmental Services, Alexis worked as a doorman at the Rockefeller Outpatient Pavilion at MSK. He then moved to Security, where he served as an officer and a facility assistant at the Rockefeller Outpatient Pavilion at MSK for 10 years.
Alexis was promoted to his current role earlier this year. As a regional manager of material management and supply chain, Alexis helps ensure MSK locations in New York State and New Jersey have the proper supplies so MSK can continue delivering compassionate, life-changing care.
Alexis credits his career trajectory at MSK in large part to the support he’s received from mentors and sponsors — including Paul Adamec, a transportation manager at MSK; Cecile Coiro-Campbell, a senior project manager at MSK; and Nancy Diamond, director of Ambulatory Care at MSK Westchester. “I’m incredibly grateful for these individuals. They helped shape my MSK journey and are a part of who I am today — and what I continuously strive to be.”
His advice to others looking to grow their career at MSK? “It’s important to keep yourself open to different options and explore new routes to learning and career,” he says. “We have a ton of resources. … There is no such thing as a closed door. MSK has opportunities day in and day out.”
He adds: “MSK is one of the best medical institutions to be a part of. It continues to provide avenues for its employees to pursue career growth.”
The Importance of Hispanic Heritage Month
For Alexis, Hispanic Heritage Month is about recognizing his community’s resiliency as well as celebrating his culture’s vibrancy. “I am proud to be a Latino and the loving, nurturing culture we are a part of. From my parents and leaders at MSK to Latinos throughout the country and the world, we have [dealt with] — and continue to deal with — adversity and always find a way to persevere,” he says.
A father now himself, Alexis hopes his children maintain strong ties to their Latino heritage. He has a newfound appreciation for the crowded family gatherings of his youth and looks forward to each time his children get together with his mother and father.
“When my daughter and son spend time with their grandparents, that’s their history book. And I want my children to indulge in this as much as they can,” he says.