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Faces of South - Student Profile

Angela Flores: Empowering Diversity in STEM and Pursuing a Passion for Electrical Engineering

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February 15, 2017

As a kid growing up in rural California, South Seattle College electrical engineering student Angela Flores, 31, was more interested in kick drums than in kickball, hard drives than hide-and-seek, and soldering guitars than stuffed animals.  

Coming from a family of seven, Angela has a knack for making the most out of very little.

“My entire family is into music, so we all learned how to play different instruments,” says Angela, whose preferred instrument is the drums. “We didn’t have a lot of money so we ended up buying a lot of secondhand equipment and speakers, and I always found myself trying to take them all apart and fix them.”

Her fascination with building electronics and recording music, however, took a backseat during and after high school, when she had to find a stable job to provide for her family.

“I always had intentions of going to college,” says Angela. “Both my parents lost their jobs when I went into high school, so I took on three to four part time jobs just to help get the basics until they got back on their feet.”

She settled for an unsatisfying nine-to-five at Jamba Juice, slowly climbing up the corporate ladder before making the decision to attend an audio engineering program at a local studio. Soon after, she began working odd hours as a recording engineer in Santa Cruz.

“There wasn’t a lot of meaning to my day job, but I loved learning about the recording industry,” says Angela. “I really asked myself then what I wanted to do and what my passions were. And it always came back to my love of playing music, recording music and building computers.”

In 2014, she moved with her partner Liz Flores-Marcus (now the Annual Giving Manager for the South Seattle Foundation) to Seattle, and went to work full-time as a successful audio engineer. Wanting to further her career and learn new skills, she applied to South to earn her A.S. degree in electrical engineering.

“It’s important to me that diverse communities see themselves reflected in the fields they hope to pursue.” –Angela Flores

“I’m glad I made that decision,” says Angela. “South Seattle College has been the most supportive educational environment I’ve ever experienced. The diversity on campus makes me feel like I belong here, and the professors and staff are invested in my success and have helped me push through barriers.”

Since starting at South less than two years ago, Angela has quickly become one of its most ambitious and inclusive leaders on campus. She is a math tutor, and president of the Women in STEM-Club, which encourages and empowers women to excel in science, technology, engineering and math. And as co-chair of the recently revived Queer-Straight Alliance at South, she is increasing awareness and education about homophobia, gender identity and transphobia among students.

“It’s important to me that diverse communities see themselves reflected in the fields they hope to pursue,” says Angela, who hopes to earn her bachelor’s in electrical engineering at the University of Washington, and become an audio hardware design engineer. “I look forward to bringing a deeper understanding of the intersectionality of race, gender and sexual orientation to STEM fields.”

Her success and leadership both in and out of the classroom have earned her a spot in the 2017 All-Washington Academic Team, which will honor her at a ceremony on March 23 at South Puget Sound Community College in Olympia, Wash., with fellow South Seattle College nominee Chhavi Mehra. The program recognizes the state’s highest academic achievers who have gone on to demonstrate a commitment to success in the classroom and in the communities in which they live.

“I’ve made so many wonderful connections at South, both students, staff and professors,” says Angela. “But I think the most important thing I’ve done here is build a supportive community and family around myself that wasn’t there when I first started.”