NEW YORK (Nov. 11, 2022) – Kevin Flores, a Fordham University 2015 alumnus who attended the School of Professional and Continuing Studies after serving in the Marine Corps for six years, including a tour in Iraq and a three-year special duty assignment as a Marine Embassy Security Guard with the U.S. Department of State, is one of 15 chosen nationally as a 2022-23 White House Fellow. He is the second Arkansan and fourth Fordham graduate to be selected for this prestigious honor.
Originally from El Salvador, Flores’ family immigrated to the United States to escape the effects of civil war when he was just three, and since age six he has called Springdale, Arkansas home. His path to Fordham in New York City began with a suggestion from Anne Patterson, Ambassador to Pakistan during his posting at the embassy in the capital city of Islamabad. The mother of a Marine, the former Ambassador to his native El Salvador, and an Arkansan whose hometown is less than an hour from Springdale, Patterson quickly became a mentor to Flores.
“The Marine Corps, aside from a fulfilling experience where I overcame challenges to become the best person I could be, was a stepping stone that allowed me to obtain my education later on. When she asked me what my career plans were, I told her that I planned to get my college degree at the University of Arkansas. Growing up poor and an immigrant, the only school I knew was the school down the street,” said Flores. “She told me my background now made it possible to apply to schools in bigger cities that could grant me more opportunities. That conversation sparked something in me and I started to look for something different, at schools on the east coast. I’m grateful that someone so accomplished invested her time and interest in me, and it ultimately led me to Fordham.”
Between his postings in Islamabad, Pakistan and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil he visited a few schools in different cities and “fell in love with Fordham immediately,” committing to attend the following year. He originally thought he would be a political science or economics major, but the International Political Economy program turned out to be a “sweet spot,” encompassing both plus international relations, something he had a growing interest in due to his recent posts. Flores graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in International Political Economics and attributes his “well-rounded” education to the unique program.
While on campus, Flores was an officer with the Student Veterans of America at Fordham which offers peer support, beyond the resources the administration provides, in helping veterans transition from active duty to student life. “I thought it was important to be involved because transitioning is a difficult thing to do. I think people are more successful if they have someone helping them out who has been through it.”
Being in New York provided him with ample opportunities to gain experience in the law and in public service with internships at the New York County District Attorney’s Office, Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc., U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s office, and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI), embodying the school’s slogan, New York is my campus, Fordham is my school.
Following graduation, he spent a little over a year as Senior Administrative Specialist in the Foreign Policy program of The Brookings Institution before he finally did attend the University of Arkansas, earning his law degree in 2019. Within a year, he decided to run for local office and in 2020 became the first Latino elected as a city council member in Springdale. While he’s happy to set the standard, in a city where 40% of residents are Hispanic Flores says he should not have been the first and hopes more will follow him.
A particular aspect of his Fordham experience, specifically stemming from the Jesuit educational philosophy, had a lasting impact that Flores did not expect. “Studying a variety of topics encouraged me to understand different points of view, which I had done previously but continued as a student because of Fordham. I’m very thankful now to have gone through that experience of taking classes I may not have chosen on my own. After college, it stuck with me and ultimately helped me as a council member to explore different approaches to community issues, and to empathize with others to develop more well-rounded and inclusive ideas.”
The White House Fellows program dates back to 1964, when it was founded to offer exceptional young leaders first-hand experience at the highest levels of the federal government. Flores is being placed at the U.S. Small Business Administration. He and other Fellows will “spend a year working with senior White House Staff, Cabinet Secretaries, and other top-ranking Administration officials, and leave the Administration equipped to serve as better leaders in their communities,” according to the White House announcement. The fellowships are awarded on a non-partisan basis.
ABOUT FORDHAM SCHOOL OF PROFESSIONAL AND CONTINUING STUDIES:
The School of Professional and Continuing Studies (PCS) offers students a quality education in a small, personalized atmosphere that promotes individual growth and exploration. With three convenient campus locations – Lincoln Center in Manhattan, Rose Hill in the Bronx and West Harrison in Westchester, PCS is poised to meet students’ academic needs. Classes are offered evenings, weekends and online in areas including Business, Organizational Leadership, Economics, Legal and Policy Studies, and Social Work. Certificates in Digital and Social Media Marketing and Human Resource Management are also available, as well as Post-Baccalaureate / Pre-Medical / Pre-Health. The Fordham Real Estate Institute, which is part of PCS, offers a Master’s Degree and multiple Certificate Programs in Real Estate at the Westchester and Lincoln Center campuses. Visit https://www.fordham.edu/pcs for more information.
ABOUT FORDHAM’S VETERAN SERVICES:
Fordham University offers a number of services to assist student veterans. The Office of Military and Veterans’ Services works with individuals transitioning from the military to pursue higher education and become working professionals. Fordham is an approved Yellow Ribbon Program University, which guarantees that all tuition and fees are fully covered for admitted veterans who are classified in the VA`’s maximum benefit category of eligibility. Fordham is one of the top-ranked military-inclusive colleges in New York City and is listed in the top ranks of other leading national publications for military and veterans. It is one of only five universities in New York State to be included in the “Keys to Veterans Success” listing by the U.S. Department of Education. For information, visit https://www.fordham.edu/school-of-professional-and-continuing-studies/veterans/.