By UO student Chelsea Fullmer
Coming from a high school graduating class of 32 in a rural farm community, Ramiro Flores ’96 made a big step as he joined his older brother at the University of Oregon. Being a first-generation college student, Flores immersed himself into the UO culture by being active in varying organizations such as MEChA, ASUO, theater, and the Advertising team of the School of Journalism and Communication.
With little exposure to higher education coming from a community where going to college was not the norm, Ramiro chose to come to Eugene with his older brother, a sophomore at the time. Originally interested in majoring in English and philosophy, Flores eventually followed the path to advertising after the positive influences from his faculty advisor Roger Lavery and SOJC professor Ann Maxwell.
Flores spent time in the EMU basement working with MEChA, formally the Chicano Student Union that brings students together of Latino and Chicano descent together. MEChA “aims to strengthen and liberate out people by working in solidarity to reinforce our cultural values and traditions, and redefine politics to meet our people’s needs.” From there, Flores was involved in the ASUO Student Senate and was a copywriter for the Advertising Team and made an appearance in a University Theater production.
“I had so many different experiences that I never would have expected when I first started at the UO,” Flores said.
Post-graduation, Flores continued his involvement in higher education starting in the admissions department at a small college in the Bay Area. Flores then went on to earn his Master’s in Higher Education Administration and has been working at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon. Flores, as a first-generation college graduate from a migrant farmworker family background and an ambassador in the Latino community, strives to help minorities find opportunities in higher education.
“The draw to higher education definitely stemmed from my own experience as a first-generation college student and a desire to increase college access to young people from underserved communities,” Flores said. “Latinos are now the largest minority group on college campuses in the US and they are the fastest-growing demographic for college-aged students in the state of Oregon.”
Currently serving as the Director of Admissions for Willamette University, Flores is also on the Board of Directors for Cesar E. Chavez Leadership Conference, Inc. (CECLC) and Latino Educational and Recreational Network (LEaRN). CECLC is a Latino youth leadership conference and LEaRN’s “purpose is to empower the Latino community through athletic competition, emphasizing academic achievement, community involvement, and cultural awareness.”
Besides being a board member of CECLC and LEaRN, Flores currently serves on the Board of Directors for the UO Alumni Association, and is a lifetime member. Giving back to his alma mater, Flores strives to advocate for the UO and help make the university better as a whole.
“I care about the future of the university,” Flores said.
Staying informed about the UO through the Alumni Association, Flores is also surrounded by other Ducks in his family, including his wife Andrea Flores ’97, the Director of Student Support at La Salle Catholic College Preparatory, his brother Tomas ’94, the Director of Financial Services for the Oregon Department of Education, and his wife Fabiola ’96, a Budget Manager for the Secretary of State. As many Duck fans do, Flores and his family display Oregon spirit in multiple ways.
“On any given Saturday in the fall, you'll find us at Autzen or in front of our TVs cheering on the Ducks and wearing our green and yellow proudly. We will be at the Multicultural Reunion next month and hope to reconnect with some old friends,” Flores said. “The Duck connection is strong in my family.”