By Diana Castro
Pulse staff writer
As a child, Dr. Ruben Michael “Mike” Flores remembers the sacrifices his mother made to earn her bachelor’s degree. Now, Flores works hard to help Palo Alto students achieve the same and more.
During his first year as president of Palo Alto College, Flores has made it is his mission to transform the college into an engaging and empowering campus by providing services and activities that will help students succeed.
“We’re here to help students and support them in what they would like to do,” said Flores, “…and we are here to help them achieve their goals.”
Flores, who lives on the South Side of San Antonio, has been working at Palo Alto for the past 15 years. When he isn’t busy, he likes to casually run 5Ks and read political and historical books. He is planning on taking his 7-year-old daughter, Mara, kayaking on the San Antonio River. He also has a 7-month-old daughter, Mia, with his wife Martha, who owns an advertising company.
Flores has helped the college grow with grants. This extra money has transformed the way students receive services. With a student body of more than 8,500, Flores hopes to empower every student who walks through the doors.
Freshman Victoria Chavarria planned to attend Palo Alto College as soon as she graduated from South San High School.
“It’s close to home. It’s cheap, and it’s smaller than the other campuses. I didn’t want to go somewhere else where I was going to feel overwhelmed. So far, it’s been good. Everyone’s been helpful and I feel like I’m in the know, she said.”
Flores has been actively listening to students, faculty and staff as they voice their concerns, suggestions and ideas for improvements to the campus. He has even gone on Twitter @PACpresident to make it easier for students to connect. And yes, he does write his own tweets.
Flores has been working with the Student Government Association to help plan more activities during the weekends and after hours for those students who work full time. For Flores it is important to give students who want to be engaged in extracurricular activities the opportunity.
Sandra Piñedo, President of the Palo Alto Student Government Association has worked with Flores for the past year and a half. They have worked on issues that affect the student body of Palo Alto, such as tuition, fees, textbook requirements and finding ways to cut costs.
Piñedo said, “Dr. Flores is a graceful leader and ultimately cares about the students’ success. He meets with the SGA bi-monthly and devotes his time and gives insight on how to handle issues that will affect students.”
Flores wants to share the PAC experience with students, faculty and all of the Alamo Colleges’ trustees and chancellor. It is important that Palo Alto be a transformative campus.
Flores said, “We learn from the faculty and we learn from the staff, but we also learn more from each other, and I think that’s even more important.”