Jennifer Flores is a second-year majoring in Global Development Studies in the School of Arts and Sciences. Jennifer is an outgoing executive for the Hispanic/Latinx Peer Mentoring Program, where she helps incoming first-year and transfer students get acclimated into UVA by helping create a community. Jennifer manages the budget for the program, matches mentors to mentees, and plans and executes events to promote community building so that people will feel like they have a home away from home. Jennifer also is heavily involved in the Southwood community, an area currently going through redevelopment under Habitat for Humanity. Jennifer coordinates child care every Thursday so that community members can attend development meetings and also volunteers during community events, such as holiday festivals. Some of Jennifer's other involvements include volunteering with Si Se Puede events at Albemarle High School to promote college readiness, and the Sigma Lambda Upsilon Senoritas Latinas Sorority, Inc., LADYS program, which partners college and high school women in order to help them with academics and college readiness.
How did you first get involved?
I have always loved helping others, but my main motivation is community building. I want people to feel welcomed no matter where they go. I am also a big advocate for looking back at where you came from. There were many people and programs in my life that helped me get to the place I am today. I want to make sure that others have those opportunities as well.
What is your favorite memory from your community involvements?
My favorite memory would be during Southwood's Christmas party. It was a huge potluck, and after eating, everyone got up and danced. It was such a beautiful moment, because it reminded me of home and of my culture. I loved seeing so many generations of people in one place, and it is something I missed a lot since coming to UVA.
How do you plan to be involved in the future?
I plan to continue volunteering by working on research in the Southwood community so that I can apply for a grant in the fall semester to get them necessary infrastructure. The idea right now is to use the grant money in order to supply the community with municipal WiFi. I will be interning in the community this summer to establish a mentorship and college readiness program that will hopefully help students with academic and college readiness as well as start to bridge the gap between UVA students and outside communities.
How can others get involved?
A great way to get involved is to become a mentor for LADYS, or to help out with childcare on Thursdays in Southwood. These kids are amazing, and it is great to get off Grounds and to interact with different people. It really is my home away from home and my stress reliever. It does not feel like volunteering to me.
What is your favorite class at UVA?
My favorite class is Books Behind Bars. I took this class my spring semester of my first year, and we read Russian literature and went to a juvenile detention center and talked about the readings and connected it to our lives. We all got to know each other on such a deep level as we talked about love, death, family, regret, and so many other hard topics. When it came time to say goodbye, it broke my heart. It was such a bitter sweet thing.