LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) – A mother of three walked the stage at Texas Tech graduation Saturday morning.
In 2015 former Chancellor of Texas Tech University Systems, Kent Hance, sat next to Erica Flores on a plan from Austin to Dallas. She was a single mother who never went to college.
“I told her, if you just take one course, you can always tell people if they ask you where you went to college, you can say Texas Tech, and I was trying to get her to do that and she got involved in it, she graduated,” Chancellor Emeritus Kent Hance said.
Flores says that was the beginning of a new era.
“He made it his personal mission to get me enrolled and didn’t allow me any excuses, called to check up on me and made sure I was connecting with the right people,” Flores said.
Now six years later, she has walked the stage and received her bachelor’s in general studies with a focus on psychology, sociology, and human sciences. She did this all while being a mother of three and working full-time.
“To show them as a working mother with three kids, I can still do it so, when it’s their turn to go to school, they have no excuses because if I was able to do it, they could do it,” Flores said.
Her oldest son is a junior at Texas Tech and her youngest son is about to start at the University of North Texas. She says her 12-year-old girl will go somewhere big, maybe Harvard. Also, she is a first-generation student.
“I’m the first in my family to graduate college too. So, I think that they’re probably just surprised as I am that I was able to do it, but they’re right behind me,” Flores said.
Flores calls Chancellor Hance her guardian angel and she makes sure he knows she is grateful.
“She enrolled and I hear from her every once in a while and then I got a letter from her last week, or two weeks ago and it said, ‘Dear Chancellor Hance, you’ve changed my life,'” Chancellor Hance said.
He continued to check in with her over the phone, which Flores says meant a lot to her.
“I lost my father when I was 21, so having a strong male figure means a lot to me in that sense,” Flores said.
Chancellor Hance says he does this a lot. He recruits students because he believes it will change their lives, so when Flores told him it actually happened for her, he says he choked up a little.
“It meant a lot to me and here’s a young lady who was a single mom with three kids, and I gave her a challenge of going to Texas Tech and she did it,” Chancellor Hance said.
Flores was in distance electronic classes. She says she chose Texas Tech because its online education program was amazing. She said no matter what she felt connected to the university.
“Anyone who wants to get a degree from Texas Tech they can and she said, ‘It’s like a family,’ and it is a family. Today’s a joyous occasion,” Chancellor Hance said.
When Flores was asked what it was like to see Chancellor Hance standing there as she received her diploma, she said it was unreal.
“Oh my gosh, that was a full circle moment. I have not seen him since 2015 on that plane,” Flores said. “He was there just like he’s been all these years to walk me down that last, that last little stretch.”
Chancellor Hance says Flores is now part of the Red Raider family forever.
Flores plans to continue her education.
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