Throughout her entire high school experience, Stephanie Flores has relied on peers and mentors for computer access to complete school projects and assignments. Her family’s daily struggles with financial hardships has made it impossible to afford a home computer or the monthly payments for internet access. Stephanie’s mother, Alba Flores, often worried that the Miami Southridge Senior High student would fall behind with her schoolwork.
“She’s been at a great disadvantage,” said her mother. “My fear has always been that she’d be left behind.”
But Darlene Plummer, community involvement specialist at Southridge, said that Flores is a resourceful student with tremendous drive and determination.
“I found Stephanie in my office on my computer every chance she had–early mornings, after school, even between classes,” Plummer said. “She never let it hold her back. She just worked that much harder to keep up.”
But all that is changing for Flores as she closes out her senior year.
The Miami Herald told Stephanie’s story as part of its 2013 Wish Book series, a program that helps partner South Floridians in need with members of the community willing to help. Honors College Dean Lesley Northup read Stephanie’s story and reached out. The Honors College gave Stephanie a brand new laptop, a personal printer and a cash donation for home internet connection. The dean also offered Stephanie, who through it all has maintained excellent grades, admission to the Honors College next fall.
“I don’t even know what to say,” said an excited Flores after receiving her laptop and printer. “I hope I can figure out how to use it all.”
Flores’ hard work and impressive academic performance have earned her acceptance into FIU as a Golden Scholar, an honor given to ambitious incoming freshmen.
Said Northup, “We are extremely proud to be able to help bright, hard-working young people succeed and be well prepared for college. We’re particularly pleased that Stephanie will be joining the FIU’s Honors College community.”