Meet the students: Rodrigo Flores

by Vicki Heisser  |   

Student Rodrigo Flores finds himself at home at PWSC.  Though he was born in Fresno, California, and spent most of his life in Chicago, Illinois, he prefers rural living where he can backpack in the wilderness. His love of nature and interest in outdoor exploration drew him to Valdez and PWSC. 

“I heard about the program while I was doing some Google searches. I was looking for school programs that provided some expedition and outdoor education classes.” As he looked further into PWSC, he was in contact with outdoor leadership professor Ben Rush, Cherise from financial aid, and Sam from housing, who were all, as Flores notes, “a huge support.” 

For Flores, being here is a first step in his outdoor journey. “I think it's great here … the views are amazing. My classes are pretty awesome, too. They're fun and educational.” 

Flores is not only enjoying nature and his classes, but he’s enjoying living in student housing as well.” I’m living in Cordova Hall and it is really working out. The rooms are very comfortable.”

As someone who grew up in cities, Flores explains how his love of the outdoors got its start. 

“While I lived in Chicago, every summer I'd go to California and spend time with my dad. My dad does landscaping and he is a stonemason in California's beautiful mountains. He does a lot of hard labor, and I help him out when I go visit him during the summer. My dad's a bad ass. He does all of this cool stuff. When I visit he lets me use his truck and I drive out to the wilderness and go exploring. I'm pretty confident about camping, even though I haven't done it much.”

“My main goal is to become a mechanical engineer. I attended the University of Illinois for a year as an engineering student but ran into some financial aid issues. I decided to take a break and pursue my interests in outdoor education. Eventually, I want to be self-employed and to be able to do my own projects, in terms of mechanical engineering.  I get excited about building stuff from the ground up, doing something completely, starting with the most basic things and adding all the details. I have always wanted to know how things work and where they come from.”

Once Flores meets his goal of becoming an engineer, nature and outdoor adventures will never be far from his mind. “Whenever I get depressed or feel out of line in life, I could just go out and do something regarding nature. I get excited about doing something independently, like going out in nature and being able to catch your own food.”

No matter where Flores ends up, he will find what works for him. “I'm not the kind of guy that sticks to one thing, so I'd jump around a lot. I've done a lot of things. I've done boxing, I've done hiking, I've tried freediving before. I've also driven a motorcycle. I've always liked to do stuff on my own at my own pace.”