From Kindergarten to College, Ohio Dominican Alumnae Continue to Impact Student’s Life
At just 18, Mayra Flores has made it her life’s mission to change the lives of others. As a freshman at Ohio Dominican University studying Early Childhood Education, she’s well on her way.
Her future hasn’t always been so clear, or bright. At one point, Flores considered college little more than an unattainable dream. Because of this, she accepted a different future.
“My plan was to go to work,” Flores said.
Mira Wright changed all of that.
“Mira pushed me to go to college,” Flores said. “I wouldn’t have gone to college.”
Wright has spent the last five years as Flores’ Big Brothers Big Sisters mentor; ever since Flores was an eighth-grader at Ridgeview Middle School in Columbus.
“When I had an opportunity to become involved in Project Mentor, I thought it would be an opportunity for me to make a direct impact on a student,” Wright said. “Mayra was very shy and wasn’t willing to speak up for what she might need. I’ve seen her become much more extroverted, particularly with her instructors. There were things she didn’t understand.”
Flores’ path to Ohio Dominican hasn’t been easy.
She moved to Columbus from Ecuador when she was just five years old.
“My parents didn’t know any English,” Flores said. “I was in a new place, a new country. I didn’t know anything.”
During her time as a kindergarten student at Cranbrook Elementary School, she met Yoon Kim. Kim was Flores’ English as a Second Language (ESL) instructional assistant.
“She was very shy and lonely,” Kim said of Flores. “She didn’t have any friends and she was always isolated. I tried to talk to her and pay her more attention.”
On Oct. 20, Flores, Wright, and Kim all met for the first time. However, it wasn’t by design. You could say it was coincidence, or even, faith.
Wright was helping Flores find an outfit to wear to the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio Annual Meeting Luncheon on Oct. 30, during which Flores was to be awarded the Big Brothers Big Sisters Alumni Little of the Year. While shopping at Macy’s in the Kingsdale Center Mall, Flores soon realized the Macy’s associate helping her find clothing was the same woman who bought her a winter coat in kindergarten, Yoon Kim.
Kim couldn’t hide her emotions as she broke into tears.
“I always wondered how she turned out. Something hit me and said this girl might be the same girl that I taught,” Kim said. “It was a very emotional experience.”
“It was an emotional moment because I haven’t seen (Kim) in forever and she was there for me,” Flores said.
Flores soon discovered another coincidence. Wright and Kim both graduated from Ohio Dominican University.
“I feel they helped me a lot through school and be more passionate about schoo,l and I want to have the same impact on others,” Flores said.
“As a small liberal arts college, I felt Ohio Dominican served Mayra because of her being shy and the classroom sizes would be small,” Wright said. “I took Mayra to Ohio Dominican and she instantly loved the feel of the campus.”
Wright invited Kim to sit at their table during the Big Brothers Big Sisters Luncheon. Together, they watched Flores be recognized; an opportunity that may have never happened if not for the role both women have played in Mayra’s life.
“They were always there for me and I want to show them what I’m capable of,” Flores said. “Look at what I’ve accomplished, and it’s because of them.”