Luis Flores: doing the right thing.

Position::HEALTH FEATURE - Interview

Ask most college students today what their favorite movie was when they were 8, and they'll likely to name "Finding Nemo" or some other Disney classic.

For Luis Flores of Oswego, Illinois, that movie was Spike Lee's "Do the Right Thing."

Even at that young age, he was struck by the main character's desire to always do what was right, even when doing so was difficult. For Flores, a senior nursing student at Northern Illinois University, that has translated into a busy schedule since he arrived on campus. He balances the intense demands of majoring in nursing with what he believes is an obligation to serve his fellow NIU Huskies, especially the Latino community.

He does much of that work through the Latino Resource Center, which he discovered as a first-year. There he received mentoring from older students and took advantage of programs that taught him study skills. Today, he serves as a mentor himself to nursing students of various backgrounds.

"I encourage them they can do it. It can be hard at times, but it will be worth it in the end," Flores said.

Latinos do face other challenges when it comes to college, he said.

"Getting out of your comfort zone and going to college is hard. Leaving from where you grew up to pursue a degree--it's intimidating. The transition can be difficult," he said.

Flores believes it's up to people like him to change that perception. "It's our responsibility to set the example and encourage the next generation to go to college. We have the knowledge to do so," he said.

In addition to mentoring, he is active in his fraternity, Sigma Lambda Beta, helping to bring cultural awareness to campus through events such as the Miss Latina Cultural Pageant. He was recently appointed the Director of Cultural Affairs of the Student Association. In this position, he hopes to make a greater impact on campus to spread cultural awareness of the Latino as well as other communities.

Those activities are his way of paying forward what others have done for him, he says. "The instructors and mentors who have guided me during my stay at NIU have given me the support and the push to be successful. Now I want to motivate the next generation of students to pursue their dreams."

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