When Jake Flores was asked to be featured in our February Alumni Spotlight, he agreed without hesitation. He felt he had a story to tell.
Jake Flores graduated from Liberty Academy in 2012. Prior to that, he attended Crain Middle School, Rowland and Shields Elementary School.
He took on many important roles during his time at Liberty Academy, serving as Student Council President, Math Club President, Creative Writing Club President, History Club President, and president of his 2012 senior class.
“During my time at Liberty Academy, I learned to lead, I learned to follow, and I learned to be taught,” said Flores. “My instructors became such a great asset to my life and I attribute the success I have obtained in life to them. God used each of them to guide me to become the person I am today. I am beyond thankful for the excellent leadership that was displayed at Liberty Academy & Profit Magnet High School during my time there.”
After high school, Flores went on to attend the Art Institute of Austin, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Advertising Design. He also earned a Bachelor of Arts in Theology from Bethel Seminary.
Today, Flores is a Student Minister at Kingsway Church in Beeville, Texas. As a Student Minister, he works with students ages 5-18, overseeing children’s church as well as inreach and outreach to middle school and high school students weekly within Bee County.
Flores also serves as Chief of Staff for Unified Pentecostal Local Churches International, Incorporated (UPCLII). In this position, he assists his church’s organization by working at their headquarters front office and campus, working with national leaders and national events, and assisting the Board of Trustees and General President.
At UPLCII, Flores is also the Short Term Missions Coordinator, for which he coordinates mission trips to various countries within United Pentecostal Local Churches International Incorporated. He also leads a group of young adults to minister to churches throughout Central America through a variety of ministry efforts.
In 2019, Flores was elected as the Director of the National Sunday School Department (NSSD) by the UPLCII Convention. In this role, along with a board of directors, he oversees the work of Christian education within the 200 domestic churches in UPLCII as well as hosts the annual NSSD Conference.
For Bethel Seminary, UPCLII’s Bible Institute, Flores serves as Vice President, overseeing their summer school of ministry program as well as helping coordinate their year round Continuing Education Program.
Prior to serving in ministry full time, Flores was a member of #TeamVISD, working as an AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) tutor before he stepped into the position of teaching graphic design, photography, and animation classes at Liberty Academy/Victoria Area Center for Advanced Learning. He then returned to his position as an AVID tutor for Patti Welder Magnet Middle School, Victoria West High School, Victoria East High School, Cade Middle School, and Liberty Academy. In May 2014, he became a full time AVID tutor at Patti Welder Middle School until August 2014, when he transitioned into a full time career in ministry.
Though Flores has had many important roles throughout his life, in 2022 he took on a new kind: being a dad. Last year, Flores became the proud adoptive father of a 14-year-old boy. “He is my pride and joy, and being his father is one of the greatest privileges a man could ask for,” said Flores. “I encourage anyone who is considering fostering or adopting. This is a great way to show love to a child who is in need of it. You can be the parent to a boy or girl who is longing for someone to call mom or dad, and perhaps you're looking for someone to call son or daughter. You can change someones life by choosing to be a foster or adoptive parent. Today, I’m so glad I decided to do so.”
According to Flores, he has too many favorite memories from his time at VISD to count, but one particular memory stands out to him. When Flores was a junior in high school, he took an ambitious step by deciding to run for the VISD Board of Trustees. A seat had opened up for the representative of District 1, and after realizing that he met the age qualification because he was 18, he threw his hat in the ring.
After individual interviews and some deliberation, Flores did not end up being appointed, but he walked away with the respect of many. Then VISD Board of Trustees Vice President Bernard Klimist said that before the night was over, they needed to acknowledge the bold step Flores had taken, and he received a standing ovation, first from the Board of Trustees and then from everyone else in the room. “That night I would be asked by (then) Board President Tami Keeling to serve on numerous committees and would continue to do so throughout my time with VISD, and work with many administrators as well,” said Flores. “That memory will always stand out to me as one of my all-time favorite moments.”
Flores has many people from his time as a student at VISD that left an impact on his life and helped him to believe in himself. “I had many say I wouldn’t amount to anything in life, and if I wasn’t careful I could have let that become my identity,” said Flores. “Thankfully, God sent me a great group of teachers to help me see that my future was better than that. He used them to help me see there was a better future for me. I saw it because of them. Because of them I didn’t give up on myself like I wanted to so many times.”
He gave credit to:
Sherri Hathaway, his principal from Profit Magnet High School/Liberty Academy
“Mrs. Hathaway will always be an influential voice in my life; there will never be any doubt about that,” said Flores. “As a high school student, I saw how she led my school with boldness and servant leadership, and that’s what I wanted to imitate in my own leadership opportunities. Throughout my high school career, she would be present in many open doors of leadership in my life, from me speaking at my high school graduation ceremony to me leading my first professional development. She is like a second mother to my life, showing love and compassion, and encouragement towards my dreams and my goals and she continues to do so. As I continue to grow into my adult life, I will always seek her guidance in my life and I thank her for always being willing to share it with me.”
Esther Gutierrez, his freshman and sophomore year English teacher
“Esther always pushed me to pursue all of my dreams, no matter how wild they might have been,” said Flores. “She had a desire to see all of her students get to their highest potentials, and that definitely included me. There was a time in my life where I felt like I was at my lowest and she helped push me through. She was and still is the definition of an excellent instructor.”
Jeffry Vullimen, his graphic design instructor in high school
“Jeffry was one of the most creative minds I’ve ever worked with,” said Flores. Learning under him in the areas of graphic design, photography, advertising design, and screen printing design, helped me decide that’s where I wanted to focus on for my area of study at the Art Institute of Austin. He became a great mentor and friend of mine and his lesson in graphic art still stay with me today.”
Sandra Tompkins, his first college professor and one of his key mentors in high school
“Often in high school I would find myself overwhelmed by the multiple tasks that came with being a high school student and a college student, and during those times I would find myself in the classroom of Sandra Tompkins,” said Flores. “She had a great motivational voice in my life and continued to have one even outside of my high school years.”
Bernice Dobbins, AVID Tutor Supervisor
“Bernice Dobbins was my first supervisor as I worked as an AVID Tutor for Liberty Academy,” said Flores. “I got the opportunity to shadow her in many areas of curriculum, instruction, and education administration. The tasks I was assigned might have been difficult at times, but it definitely helped me to see how I wanted many tasks that I want done today completed, with excellence. As we worked together more, her family and friends became my family and friends as well.”
Leigh Ann McElroy, his 8th grade instructor
“There were twelve 8th Grade students who were behind academically, and they put us in a room together to try to get us back on track to be with our original class,” said Flores. “The teacher who led us was none other than Leigh Ann McElroy. She embraced all of us with a compassion that all of us desperately needed, and helped guide me to a brighter future, even introducing me to Fernando Meza. She continued her support of my life after 8th Grade, even attending my high school graduation.”
Fernando Meza, his first high school principal
“Fernando Meza took a chance on a young boy who had been held back three times in 7th Grade, and welcomed him into the doors of Profit Magnet High School without hesitation,” said Flores. “He was one of the first people to see something in me that I could not see in myself, and had he not had taken a chance on that young boy, I would not be where I am today.”
Melinda Guevara, his senior class teacher, supervisor, and AVID tutor
“Melinda Guevara was not only my senior class teacher, but also one of my supervisors as an AVID Tutor,” said Flores. “One thing I will always appreciate about Melinda is that she was always honest with me and never afraid to do so. Sometimes when I felt like throwing in the towel or was angry about a situation, she would usually bring me back down to earth and remind me about the bigger picture; the kids. Her love of the students always reflected in her work, and that’s something I wanted to reflect too.”
Cheborah Ross, his sophomore math instructor
“Cheborah Ross was the instructor I’d go to whenever I was preparing for another one of my “wild ideas,” like running for the school board, or trying to keep schools from being closed, and the list goes on,” said Flores. “There was no idea that she wasn’t willing to help me with. At school board meetings when I would speak, or big moments of my life in front of VISD while I was a student, Cheborah Ross was there to support me.”
All in all, Flores is highly grateful to the VISD teachers and administrators who supported him both as a student and into adulthood.
“VISD provided me with many instructors who only wanted to see me succeed and provided a plethora of career paths that I could have chosen from,” said Flores. “From any one of those, I had the opportunity to be successful in. The campuses I went to really were the example of “every child, every classroom, every day.” This core value truly left its mark on me and I believe it did the same for my future as well. All of my instructors that helped me see a better future for myself, I cannot thank them for what they did for me and I’m sure many others. By them helping me, I too was able to help the lives of many others in my work field, and I have no doubt that God will reward each of them for that.”
Flores ended with words of wisdom for current and future students, saying, “Your past doesn’t have to be your future. What others have said about you doesn’t have to be true. You are the one who gets to decide how your life will turn out. You can be a success in your life; don’t let the negative words of others influence the decisions and actions you will take in life. Before you decide to quit, ask yourself the question, “who wins if I win?” Think about who wins if you decide to keep going. Your life is worth more than you think it is. Your mistakes can only hold you back if you let them. Let them go, move forward, and be the best version of yourself. Not just for you, but for those counting on you.”
Know a VISD alum that we should feature? We want to share their story! If you know or are a VISD alum, email us at email@example.com with your contact information and we will reach out.
Graisyn Nieto is the communications specialist at Victoria ISD.