Sunday, June 22, 2014

Student success profile: A long, worthwhile road to a degree

Alexis Flores
Nothing was going to keep Alexis Flores from pursuing her degree at Cuyamaca and Grossmont colleges. When the 22-year-old resident of Sherman Heights, a San Diego neighborhood a mile or so east of Petco Park, needed a way to get to Cuyamaca College, her grandfather drove her to school. When her grandfather fell ill and could no longer drive, Flores transferred to Grossmont College, which is easier to reach from her home via bus and trolley.

Flores, who has suffered from various disabilities since she was born more than three months premature, was recently honored as a Grossmont College Student of Note. The awards are given to students who have overcome obstacles on their way to graduation.

“Alexis has faced several hardships while pursuing her degree,” wrote Marlene Barr, a counselor at Grossmont College’s Disability Support Programs and Services. “Alexis has multiple disabilities, including hearing loss. In addition, members of Alexis's family have also experienced serious health crises during the time that Alexis has been pursuing her degree at Grossmont. Despite these challenges, Alexis has maintained a consistently positive attitude and has made great use of the resources available to her while attending school.”

Flores graduated in June with an associate degree in communications. She plans to attend California State University San Marcos in the fall of 2015. In the meantime, she is learning to become fluent in American Sign Language.

Flores suffered from myriad ear infections as a child and has been hearing-impaired most of her life. Doctors have told Flores she will lose her hearing within eight to 10 years, though they have yet to determine a cause. She refuses to let that get in her way of reaching her dreams.

Flores aspires to become the San Diego Zoo’s director of education. She was set on her path while taking part in Zoo Corps, a program for children ages 13 through 17 who have an interest in wildlife conservation, education or public speaking.

She admits that attending college in the East County was unusual for a student from Sherman Heights who attended and graduated from Point Loma High School.

“Not many people from my school had gone to Grossmont or Cuyamaca,” Flores said. “So I thought it would be interesting.”

She said she loved the “calm, quiet, peaceful environment” at Cuyamaca College, but she has no regrets about moving to Grossmont.

“I love Grossmont College, I love the campus, I love the teachers, and the quality of the campus is tremendous,” Flores said. “It is a great place to go to school and it was absolutely perfect for me.”