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Natural Born Leader

After spending the summer walking and hitchhiking across Latin America, trekking through 10 countries over 5,000 miles, it’s no surprise that Saul Flores has become an ambassador of sorts. The 20-year-old undergraduate is juggling his studies in graphic design and marketing while filling his schedule with speaking engagements in front of community groups and student organizations around the Triangle.

His goal is simple, if ambitious. He hopes to bring a measure of compassion and understanding to the ongoing national debate about immigration.

As tough as his journey was, Flores said, it could have been even more difficult had he traveled – as many immigrants do – without a U.S. passport.

Saul Flores documented the rich cultural heritage of Latin America over the summer.

“Just to think of these immigrants crossing into the United States with the hopes and dreams and aspirations of creating a better future and having to make this journey without the support that I had, is just something unbelievable,” he said.

Flores is also doing his part to address one of the issues that drives immigrants north. He’s using his marketing skills to sell some of the 20,000 photos he took on the journey; beautiful images of Latin American landscapes, people and cultural sites. And he’s sending the proceeds to an impoverished elementary school in rural Atencingo, Mexico, to improve the educational opportunities available for the town’s poorest children. Flores visited the town last spring on a service project organized by the Caldwell Fellows.

Sharing Images and Reflections

Flores launched his speaking tour in October at a campus event sponsored by the Department of Multicultural Student Affairs, where he made a 90-minute presentation and accepted the Role Model Leaders Award from CSLEPS, the Center for Student Leadership, Ethics & Public Service. Flores is the first student to receive the award, which has been given annually for 24 years.

On Oct. 14, he headed over to Chapel Hill, where he spoke for two hours at the University of North Carolina as part of Hispanic Heritage Month.

On Oct. 23, Flores participated as one of nine speakers at the TEDxNCSU event at NC State in the morning, then gave the keynote address at the 15th annual Latino Diamante Awards that evening at the Durham Marriott Convention Center.

He’s also giving interviews to local and national media, including The Story, a public affairs program that is broadcast on more than 100 public radio stations.

Flores is selling photos of his journey on his Web site, with proceeds going to benefit the elementary school in Atencingo. See our favorite shots. Yes, we did go through all 20,000 photos.

Saul Flores Reflects on His Journey

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  1. That’s quite a journey, and an accomplishment that he will have to launch a career in many directions. Congrats to Flores.