“Don’t be intimidated. Ask questions. There’s good advice out there”: An Interview with Guadalupe Flores

Guadalupe (CRSM ’19) and I talked during a rare break from her intense schedule of work and nursing studies at the College of Lake County. As a recent graduate of CRSM, she has first-hand experience with the obstacles that the Covid-19 pandemic is presenting to college students across the country. She graduated with a high grade-point average and was accepted into every college to which she applied. Quiet and unassuming, Lupe, as her friends call her, embodies the Cristo Rey St. Martin dedication to grit.

The following conversation has been edited and condensed 

Thanks for speaking with me, I know this is your only free time.
I’m happy to do it.

Has your family been in North Chicago for a long time?
Yes, both my brother and I were born and raised here. I went to Most Blessed Trinity and then to CRSM.

How did the transition to CRSM and the work study program go for you? Was it difficult?
Actually, I looked forward to it, and then found work study exciting. I worked at three different companies: Takeda, the YWCA and Abbvie. I had a wide range of great experiences; I keep in touch with many of my supervisors. My favorite was my work in Mobility Operations at Abbvie.

You’re the first one in your family to go to college, were your parents a big part of your reaching that goal?
I am the first, although my mom went to community college for a while; but you know…life happens. Both of my parents were very supportive. They wanted me to get good grades almost as much as I did!  I got mostly As and Bs…Cs would scare me! [laughs] the end of the world!

Your grades were excellent across the board, was science always your primary interest?
I guess. When I was growing up, I wanted to be a teacher. Sophomore year turned out to be a decision point for me, I loved Biology and quickly became interested in nursing. I had so many good teachers, Ms. Velasquez, Mr. Call, Mr. Glab were some of my favorites. It’s kind of ironic, at CRSM, I enjoyed science more than the humanities. But some of my science courses are SO hard; I’m wishing for a few humanities courses right now!

It was good that you were in the new building with the excellent lab facilities.
That’s true. I was in both buildings. It’s funny, I have great feelings about the old building too – about both campuses.

Were you an “extra-curricular” person at CRSM?
Not that much really. I was more the “finish school and get home” type. I did some volunteer trips to Feed My Starving Children. The retreats were great. I had an important Senior Retreat – a realization. Freshman retreat was at St. Mary’s University of Minnesota, and during our zip lining adventure, I was half way up the pole and had a panic attack. But at senior retreat, when we went zip lining, I did it. It was nice to realize that I had grown. Getting through and finishing was a lesson. Now I’m pushing through difficult situations every week; studying for tests and working at my job. I push through and the next thing I know, it’s Friday and I’ve made it through another week.

Speaking of jobs, tell me a bit about your work.
I’m a lab tech assistant at Lake Forest Pediatrics. It’s an excellent job. I’ve also been trained to be on the floor – calling patients in, taking vitals, blood pressure, temperature, pulse, weight, height, etc. When COVID-19 hit, my mom lost her job. Things got even more complicated when my dad got COVID-19. Luckily, he came through it well and was able to get back to work quickly. We were lucky that I had recently started my job, which I’m proud to say helped a great deal.

That could be in the running for Guadalupe’s  “proudest moment”!
[laughing] Maybe. I just received my Nursing Assistant Certification from CLC.

Congratulations! You should take a break to celebrate your success. How do you spend your free time?
I’m listening to some Urban Latino music right now and I have tickets to see Justin Bieber. Long term, I’d like to travel, I’m hoping to make it to Greece and Italy.

I’m betting you’ll get there. I like to ask alumni what they think would be important information to pass on to a CRSM freshman.
[pauses] Connect with your supervisors. Don’t be intimidated. If you don’t know ask: “What would you do?”  I got good advice from my supervisors and teachers.