Solution Generation is proud to partner with the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) to ensure that our students and communities act now to lead on climate solutions. HACU represents almost five hundred colleges and universities committed to Hispanic higher education in the US, Puerto Rico, Latin America, and Spain. In partnering with HACU and collaborating with its hundreds of member institutions, we are confident that we can take transformative climate action.
Leading HACU is Dr. Antonio Flores, the association’s President and Chief Executive Officer, and a member of the ecoAmerica Board of Directors. During his tenure as HACU’s president, Dr. Flores has nearly tripled HACU membership and budget, expanded programming three-fold, and exponentially increased funding for Hispanic-serving institutions.
Behind these impressive professional accomplishments is a compelling story about a boy growing up in rural Mexico. In our latest Leader Spotlight, Dr. Flores shares with us how his youth spent in a small village instilled in him a passion for a more sustainable world, and his belief that education is the path to a more flourishing future for everyone.
Sharon Chen | Solution Generation
There is a small farming village in rural Mexico – like thousands of others that dot the landscape, it is remote and isolated, set in a pristine landscape of natural beauty. Rivers snake into a nearby lake, and the people who live in the village rely on the rolling land for their food. It is beautiful, but life there is also hard: up until recently, there was no electricity, no running water, and education went no higher than the fifth grade. Children worked on farms alongside their parents and went to school when they could.
This is where Dr. Antonio R. Flores, the president and chief executive officer of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), comes from. HACU is one of the nation’s largest education associations and a partner of Solution Generation. Of his childhood, Flores says: “There was no electricity, no running water, no commercially available toys – none of that. So we had to be very creative, in terms of making our own toys and inventing our own games. We also had to work on the farm with different chores at the same time that we were going to school.”
This small village is Flores’ foundation, and in his hometown he finds inspiration and parallels for his work in education and sustainability.
Education Is a Journey
Flores comes from a family of farmers, who, despite their own lack of formal education, hold a deep appreciation for learning. Flores’ parents instilled in him a thirst for knowledge. When he was ten years old, a visiting family of teachers who had been teaching in the village was preparing to return to their city. Having noticed Flores’ aptitude and intelligence, they asked his parents if they could take him with them; the teachers would raise Flores as their own and provide him with the education he could not get in the village. Flores’ parents agreed, allowing their son to leave them to pursue his education. Moving to the city was “a total revelation. I discovered a whole new world of possibilities,” Flores says.