Throughout her 16-year career in the Florida Legislature, a familiar scene at the Florida state Capitol was Senator Anitere Flores fiercely advocating for students and education throughout Miami-Dade and Monroe counties.
A graduate of FIU’s Honors College with dual bachelors' degrees in political science and international relations, Flores has been a long-term member of the Honors College Dean’s Advisory Board and was invited back to FIU earlier this year to receive the Honors College Medallion.
Flores made history in 2016 when she became the first Hispanic woman to serve as President Pro-Tempore of the Florida Senate, the second highest member of the body. The Huffington Post named her as one of their “40 under 40: Latinos in American Politics” for her commitment to the community and education.
Flores credits her FIU education with her success.
“FIU and the Honors College offered me the educational foundation I needed in order to succeed in the ways that I have,” she said.
Her love for FIU led her to retain close ties with the community and fueled a desire to help others take advantage of the opportunities afforded by such an institution.
“Senator Flores has been one of our greatest champions,” said President Mark B. Rosenberg. “As a distinguished public servant, she has fought for her community and represented FIU well in Tallahassee! She has redefined what it means to raise the bar and has given all Panthers great inspiration to follow suit. We will surely miss her energetic approach in the Florida legislature.”
Flores established the First-Generation Scholarship Program, which has enabled almost 100,000 students in Florida to be the first in their families to go to college. It comes as no surprise that FIU students have benefited greatly from the legislation, as 25 percent of undergraduate students at FIU are first-generation. This program has generated more than $29 million in private philanthropy that matches state funds to provide financial assistance for these students. At the Honors College Medallion ceremony, she was able to meet some of the recipients of the scholarship.
Flores said, “It was a ‘wow’ moment - a moment to realize that we have been able to make a difference in so many lives.”
Flores’ passion for improving education is steadfast, and FIU serves as her inspiration to champion change.
“Throughout my years as a legislator, I have been able to work with different teams within FIU to improve the higher education arena in the state of Florida. FIU is always at the forefront of the issues that I pursue,” she added.
Prior to being elected a State Representative, Flores spent two years advocating for FIU as director of state relations. During her career in the Florida House, Flores served as Deputy Majority Leader, Chair of the PreK-12 Appropriations Committee, and Chair of the PreK-12 Policy Committee. She is currently the director of development for the ACE Foundation, an organization dedicated to raising funds for students and schools in need.