Friday, August 31, 2018

Meet a Roadrunner: Alex Flores '16 conquered cancer to earn her bachelor's degree

Meet a Roadrunner: Alex Flores '16 conquered cancer to earn her bachelor's degree

Alex Flores earned a bachelor's degree, a minor and a certificate from UTSA in four years.

(Feb. 15, 2017) -- Meet Alex Flores '16. Despite an unexpected cancer diagnosis, the UTSA alumna earned her bachelor's degree, a minor and a certificate in just four years.

Growing up, Flores loved music. She knew from the beginning that she wanted her education, and her career, to center around it.

During her senior year at Stevens High School, when she began applying to universities, UTSA was on her radar.

After much consideration, she felt that UTSA was the best option, and shortly after her first few months attending the university, she knew it was the perfect place for her.

"I fell in love with UTSA – everything about it from the people to the faculty and staff and especially the music department," Flores recalls. "It was the perfect fit for me."

Flores enrolled at UTSA in the fall of 2012 and declared a major in music marketing. In her first three years, she learned all about this unique business – taking classes such as Introduction to the Music Industry, Audio Technology and Entrepreneurship in Music. By the end of her junior year, she was on track to graduate in four years. More importantly, she was thriving at UTSA.

But then she was ready to begin her senior year. And right before the start of that fourth year of study came devastating news.

In the summer of 2015, Flores was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. In the blink of an eye, her world was turned upside down.

Her doctors advised her to stop working and put school on hold. They wanted her to spend the next year focusing on intense treatment. The solution? Chemotherapy…which completely wiped out her immune system. At her most susceptible point, she was only allowed to leave the house for treatment and doctor's appointments.

But through it all, Flores refused to be thrown off track. And, after nearly six months of treatment, she re-enrolled at UTSA to take a course she needed to complete the music requirements for her major. She wanted desperately to graduate on time.

"During that semester, I did whatever I could to make sure I was here. I went to school with a mask on. I used a cane. I even asked family members to help me get to class," she recalls.

As her health grew better over the next two semesters, she continued to take more classes. By fall 2016, she had taken enough courses to earn her bachelor's degree in music marketing, a minor in business administration and a certificate in music technology.

"Graduation was amazing. It was more than just graduating school; it represented so much more after everything I had gone through."

Currently in remission, Flores will finish her two-and-a-half-year treatment this November.

"I have come leaps and bounds from where I was a year ago," she said. "I can't wait to finish treatment and move on from this chapter of my life."

The UTSA alumna recently started her first full-time job at Youth Orchestra of San Antonio (YOSA). She is also working at UTSA part-time with the Department of Music as a public relations assistant.

"I hope to continue working my way up in the performing arts world and eventually move to Los Angeles or New York."

As she continues to move forward in her career, Flores credits UTSA for giving her the best opportunities and experiences.

"I can certainly say that over the past four years, I have become a much stronger and wiser person. I've grown tremendously and UTSA was a big part of that."

- Erika Bruno


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