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HESTEC Latina Day: CNN journalist talks about supportive mom and growing up in the Valley

CNN correspondent Rosa Flores, a Progreso native, took time to pose for photos with students during HESTEC 2016’s Latina Day on Wednesday, Oct. 5, at the Fieldhouse on the Edinburg Campus. (UTRGV Photo by Paul Chouy)

By Melissa Vasquez

EDINBURG, TEXAS – OCT. 5, 2016 – Members of the HESTEC 2016 Latina Day audience shed a few tears Wednesday, during the opening keynote address by Progreso, Texas, native and CNN correspondent Rosa Flores.

Flores shared her heartwarming story with more than 700 mothers and daughters attending the third day of the weeklong event.

“Simplemente, yo soy del Valle (Simply said, I’m from the Valley),” Flores said.

It was a moment the local audience could certainly relate to. Flores, who was born in Rio Bravo, Tamaulipas, Mexico, shared her stories of growing up as a non-English speaker, and recounted how her mother made sure she got the education she needed to learn English.

“When I was 3 years old, I used to hide behind the bushes and hop on the school bus to go to school. I knew that at the end of that bus ride, I could learn English,” Flored said. “I did it so many times that my poor mother had to figure out a way to get me to school, so I could stop getting on that bus.”

“When you watch me on CNN,” she said, “remember, I did not know how to speak English. But I had that drive and that dream. And who was there to support me? My mother.”

Now a CNN correspondent based in Chicago who covers domestic and international news stories, Flores talked about her mother’s role in her professional and personal success. Her mother, Rosa, and brother Juan were in attendance to support Flores.

Flores was valedictorian of her 1999 graduating class at Progreso High School. Since then, she has had a whirlwind career in journalism, riding on the papal plane to report on Pope Francis during his visit to the United States, Cuba and Mexico, to traveling to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to cover the lead-up to this year’s Rio Olympics.

Before her dreams became a reality, though, Flores was a Valley teenager who used to make queso fresco mexicano from a family recipe, and sell it for $1 so she could buy clothes for school.

Again, who was there to cart her around to sell the cheese to customers? Her mother.

“I’m very proud of it all,” she said. “These stories tell you a little bit about how I got where I am today. I always seek out my next challenge, I don’t sit and wait for it.”

Flores earned a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism, a bachelor’s degree in business administration, and a master’s degree in accounting from The University of Texas at Austin.

But when she graduated from high school, her father did not want her to go to college outside of the Valley, she said, and her mother’s friends would say, “Don’t let your daughter leave the Valley to get an education.”

“But I go back to the same example from before. My mother was there for me and told me not to listen to what others said. She didn’t care what others said. She knew me and trusted me.

“I knew I was going to be successful and I knew that I was going to achieve, but it started with her support,” she said with tears in her eyes. “Mothers, we need you, we really do. Sometimes, all it takes is for you to be there.”

CLOSE TO HOME

Esperanza Rios, who attended Latina Day for a second time with her 17-year-old daughter Prycilla, a senior at Weslaco High School, said she was so moved by Flores because her stories spoke directly to her own heart.

“Just like she (Flores) was saying, Prycilla’s dad doesn’t want to let her go to college. But I’m like, no, you are going. You are going wherever you want to go, because I believe that she can do whatever she wants to."

“Whatever she is dreaming I tell her it is possible,” Esperanza said. “And she has the brain for it.”

Prycilla said her goal is to become a pediatrician.

“I’m definitely more inspired to follow my dreams, no matter how big they are, and to never give up,” she said.

VIDEO QUOTE – ROSA FLORES:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=82h8WoHiGk8&feature=youtu.be

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Melissa.Vasquez@UTRGV.edu
Publications Editor / 956-665-8926

Marci.Caltabiano@UTRGV.edu
UTRGV Director of News and Internal Communications / 956-665-2742