Center Spotlight: Roberto Flores
As an avid advocate for racial minorities and the LGBTQ+ community, senior Roberto Flores is working toward improving the conditions for member of these groups on campus and off.
Working with PeaceJam as a mentor and the Service Leadership Seminar as a facilitator, Flores gained an understanding for the importance of engaging in social conversations about identity and tying it into social issues of today.
“I feel like more than anything, it’s a really good way to learn to see the impact that a social justice education can have on high school students, as well as learning how to facilitate very difficult conversations,” they said of PeaceJam.
Tying in the same core principles, SLS showed Flores how impactful social conversations can be to first-year students and how that shapes their time at FSU.
With both programs, seeing the growth of the students throughout the entire year has been a great progression to witness for Flores.
Outside of the center, Flores is also very involved with the Pride Student Union, serving as an assistant director last year and as program coordinator the year before.
Working to push forward, Flores led leadership development programs for LGBTQ+ students by creating curriculum and organizing action projects. They included conversation-based programs, facility programs and mentoring.
“The experience was great … We went to high school LGBT clubs where we worked with them around whatever issues they wanted to talk about and what they wanted to learn from us,” Flores said.
Also coordinating events around sexual health, they facilitated HIV & AIDS prevention and testing. Working with the Center for Health Advocacy and Wellness, Big Bend Cares and Neighborhood Medical Center, there were some months last year when every week there was free HIV testing.
Flores also played a hand in coordinating events with Pride affiliates and hosting Pride’s Identity Nights, where different identity groups within the LGBTQ community get a chance to talk to each other about related issues.
This past spring, Flores was also selected as one of 30 John Lewis Fellowship winners, an American program of Humanity in Action. Fellows work alongside professionals in fields of political and economic advocacy.
“Being selected made me ecstatic and really affirmed the work I have been doing as a student leader and an advocate for marginalized communities, particularly racial minorities and the LGBTQ+ community,” Flores said.
From the fellowship, Flores hopes to be immersed in a culture of dialogue to, “Learn from other participants sharing their lived experiences as well as the knowledge they have gathered in their respective fields.”
Center programs have been pivotal to helping Flores discover their passions.
“Being able to find a way that you are able to express yourself and find your voice to communicate to others is important, and the center has been essential to helping me find that,” they said.
After graduating in spring of 2019, Flores hopes to go either to law school or graduate school for urban and regional planning.
“I’m just interested in working in economic development, whether it is in lower income communities in the United States or Latin American politics and economies,” Flores said.
Being an immigrant has shaped how Flores views the relationship between the United States and a lot of other countries.
“I think that has been a really pivotal thing for me: to see the world as why is it that I had to move and why a certain country is not as economically successful,” Flores said. “I think that has always just been a central part of my questioning of the status quo and what I can do about it to change it.”
— Fabuola Pierre