Andrea Flores: Standing atop the shoulders of giants
Updated: Aug 4, 2020
Andrea Flores was the first Latina elected as Senior Class President at Texas A&M University. Unfortunately, this did not shock Andrea as the preceding class president went on to become only the fifth woman elected as Student Body President in decades (her name was Amy Sharp—check out our interview with her here). Now, Andrea Flores has become the youngest sitting appointed commissioner for Dallas County’s Zoning Commission—potentially serving as the youngest commissioner Dallas County has ever seen. Yet, Andrea is humble about her accomplishments. She credits her parents with her initial success, recognizing their tenacity and determination. There is a saying that we stand atop the shoulders of the giants before us, helping us achieve our dreams. Andrea stands atop the shoulders of giants—like her parents—changing the world from a skyline view.
Andrea was born and raised in Cedar Hill, a small city within the greater Dallas area. She was rooted in humble beginnings; her grandparents were farmworkers and Bracero workers (a term used to describe seasonal farmworkers). Her parents both work full-time. Andrea describes her family as a working class family. Andrea admired her parents’ strength. “My parents have worked hard for me to break barriers and give me the confidence to do things,” Andrea said. Later in her career, Andrea would lean on her family’s influence.
As she grew older, Andrea threw herself into sports—playing every sport available at her schools. She did not recognize her political potential under her junior year in high school, when her friend (also named Andrea) pushed her to run for class secretary. To Andrea’s surprise, she won. She would also go on to become her high school’s senior class vice president. It was then that Andrea recognized her passion for all things political.
After Andrea graduated from high school, she decided to attend Texas A&M University. Andrea jumped headfirst into student organizations, especially groups focused on inclusivity. As a Latina, Andrea quickly realized that Latinx students were not uplifted on campus. In fact, Andrea believed that Texas A&M was not welcoming of students of color as a whole. For those unfamiliar with Texas A&M’s demographics, it is a university that serves a predominantly white student population. For example, Texas A&M hosts the Elephant Walk for seniors which guides students around campus, stopping at “important” monuments that make up the campus. As part of the walk, students would make a stop at the statue of Lawrence Sullivan “Sul” Ross (referred to as the Sully statue). Sul Ross was a Texas Ranger, Confederate Army General, Texas Governor, and president of Texas A&M with an infamous history supporting white supremacy. Most heinously, Sul Ross was an avid member of the Ku Klux Klan. Andrea noted this tradition as one of many that inherently disregards the concerns of students of color. She wanted to make A&M traditions more inclusive to students, so she decided to run for Senior Class President.
Andrea looked to guidance from Amy Sharp, the former Senior Class President at the time and fifth woman ever elected as Student Body President (previously featured by Lone Star Parity Project). Andrea, vying to represent 18,000 seniors, and Amy, vying to represent 66,000 students, teamed up to make history for women and students of color. Andrea’s campaign slogan was “Minorities are Priorities.” Over 20% of Texas A&M’s student population is Hispanic—almost qualifying the university as a Hispanic-Serving Institution—yet Hispanic students were never prioritized. At the time, Andrea did not realize that—if elected—she would become the first Latina in the campus’s history to serve as Senior Class President. And by a margin of only 18 votes, she successfully secured the seat.
Andrea’s journey into elected office was not easy. She was regularly discriminated because of her identity as a Latina. Students made fun of her for her campaign slogan and discouraged her from running. Other students created social media campaigns that attacked Andrea on all fronts, assuming that her campaign announcement was a “joke.” The ridicule and discrimination forced Andrea to seek therapy. At one point, Andrea even felt that she did not want to serve as class president any longer. Yet, Andrea fulfilled her responsibilities and stood strong in the face of adversity.
As Senior Class President, she immediately focused on transforming some of A&M’s less inclusive Senior traditions to prioritize students of color. Andrea successfully advocated for the removal of the Sully statue stop on the Elephant Walk tour. The removal sparked controversy within the A&M community; one of her fellow classmates received death threats. In the end, the Sully statue remained on campus but was removed from the Elephant Walk. Andrea also introduced a Latinx Graduation Ceremony that provided a bilingual ceremony for Spanish-speaking students and their families. She remembers the outpouring of support from Latinx students, thanking her for giving Spanish-speaking relatives the chance to fully experience graduation. Finally, as the leader of Class Councils, an organization focused on representing student opinion, Andrea prioritized the appointment of Latinx students. When Andrea assumed office, only 1 student out of 50 seniors in Class Councils was Latinx.
Andrea graduated from Texas A&M in May 2020 with a Bachelors of Agricultural Communications and Journalism with a minor in Latino/a and Mexican American Studies. Now she works full-time for MOVE Texas, an nonpartisan organization building civic power in underrepresented youth communities. She also interns part-time for Reflect Us, a coalition of nonprofits dedicated to electing more women to public office. Even with a full schedule of work, Andrea still aspired to further invest herself in the Dallas community. She applied and secured a seat on the Dallas County’s Zoning Commission. Andrea will be the youngest sitting appointed commissioner and potentially the youngest ever appointed to represent Cedar Hill. Andrea will officially take appointed office on August 4th.