Lifetime leader: Alum’s legacy of giving sealed with scholarship
Jaime Flores ’80 recalls thinking as he pulled away from campus following graduation that his time at Illinois State University was done. Reflecting on the nearly four decades since his collegiate days ended, Flores is both surprised and delighted to realize how his life remains intricately connected to his Redbird experience.
Flores has done much to support the University with his time and talents since completing his degree in marketing through the College of Business. He served a 10-year term on the inaugural Board of Trustees. He helped create Nuestros Logros, a celebration held each spring for graduating students in the Latino(a) community.
Flores also assisted in establishing the Latino Alumni Network (LAN), and has served as president since its start in 2013. During that time, members have raised funds to provide financial support to Latino students.
He has seen the joy recipients express and the impact scholarships have on building students’ confidence, making Flores open to doing even more. Just what that meant became clear to him last year following a conversation with fellow alums. He and his wife consequently invested $25,000 to create the Jaime and Lizet Flores Endowed Scholarship Fund.
“I was inspired at a College of Business event while talking to Kelly and James Smith,” Flores recalled. They established the Kelley and James Smith Accounting Scholarship. She completed an accounting degree in 1981 and is a member of ISU’s College of Business Hall of Fame.
“That conversation sparked a light bulb to go on,” said Flores, who is excited to leave a legacy at the University through Redbirds Rising: The Campaign for Illinois State. He is even more energized knowing students will receive the financial support needed to complete their education. Recipients will be chosen through the College of Business and LAN.
A desire to lift others has been a fundamental characteristic of Flores since he started studying at ISU. He joined the Association of Latin American Students (ALAS), becoming president of the Registered Student Organization and later staff advisor while working in ISU’s Office of Admissions.
He helped connect minority youth with Fortune 500 companies while working at INROADS, the nation’s largest nonprofit source of paid internships for youth. Prior to that role and his Admissions’ work, Flores spent six months at Mexico City’s Cultural Institute and was executive director of the Cermak Road Chamber of Commerce for two years.
For the past 12 years, he has gone back to his business roots as owner of a restaurant. The Tamale Hut Café in the Chicago suburb of North Riverside goes beyond a place to eat, as it is a gathering place where aspiring artists and authors find inspiration.
Not surprisingly, Flores hopes to continue inspiring others through the family’s scholarship fund. “One act of goodwill promotes another,” Flores said, referring back to the conversation that motivated him and his wife to act. His desire is for others to realize they too have the ability to make a difference in the life of an ISU student with an investment in Redbirds Rising.