Sustaining Collegiate Dream Through Service
Buena Vista University sophomore Rocio Flores-Gonzalez is grateful for the role BVU has played in getting her on a career arc, something she wasn’t sure was possible.
Rocio Flores-Gonzalez is vigilant when it comes to community service. It shows on a sunny afternoon as she works with residents at Methodist Manor, assisting activities director Ron Peterson in spreading cheer, movement, and more.
Vigilant? Flores-Gonzalez takes service a step further.
“This is Vigilance, a two-year-old lab/huskie mix,” she says. “Residents at Methodist Manor love seeing him. We like to brighten their days by visiting and listening to their stories. It’s an amazing place.”
Flores-Gonzalez is a sophomore at Buena Vista University, another “amazing place,” she says for the role it has played in getting her on a career arc, something she wasn’t sure was possible.
“Education for Service has introduced me to life in Buena Vista County. It has allowed me to find a second home in BVU.”
“My parents are immigrants from Mexico, and they’ve worked very hard for their children, doing difficult work on the production line at Tyson Foods in Storm Lake to provide for us,” Flores-Gonzalez says. “They see education as a way to push ahead in life.”
Flores-Gonzalez examined college options as a senior at Sioux Central High School. Her path opened when BVU introduced Education for Service (EFS), a benefactor-funded initiative whereby first-generation college students from Buena Vista County participate in a four-year leadership development program, which includes completing 300 hours of annual community service through AmeriCorps in exchange for tuition.
Flores-Gonzalez applied for admission, relating a host of volunteer activities she’d done as a high schooler.
“My parents were so happy this program was available,” she says. “They told me to go for it!”
Flores-Gonzalez, one of 10 students in the first EFS cohort, continues her service to the community. In addition to her time spent with residents at Methodist Manor, the strategic public relations major assists at the TLC canine center in Newell and serves as an aide to Dr. Andrea Frantz, BVU professor of digital media, as she conducts citizenship classes twice per year at Storm Lake Public Library.
“I help Dr. Frantz as an interpreter, or by watching children as their parents prepare for their citizenship test,” she says.
Flores-Gonzalez plays with a toddler as the child’s mother studies American history. She sees the woman hard at work and can’t help but feel grateful for the sacrifices her parents make and for the scholarship she receives.
She also hopes to do well by those who help fund the EFS program, those whose generosity allow her to eye life as a BVU graduate with minimal debt.
“The EFS program will allow me to start my life as an adult with so much knowledge about our community and the people in it,” she says. “Education for Service has introduced me to life in Buena Vista County. It has allowed me to find a second home in BVU.”