Gabriella Flores is ‘continuing the dream’ at John Carroll

Megan Grantham, Campus Editor

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“Words have a lot more impact than people might think, and no matter what’s going on in the world, no matter what’s going on with anyone personally, you should always put your best face forward and be the change you want to see,” advised junior Gabriella Flores.

Flores is extremely busy on campus, being involved as a help desk assistant at Grasselli Library, a peer mentor for the Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion and a resident assistant in Hamlin Hall. She’s studying English with a double minor of Spanish and Peace, Justice & Human Rights.

She recently won an essay contest, which gave her the honor of winning the Rev. Dr. Valentino Lassiter Award. “The Theology and Religious studies department, they have this award every year in honor of Dr. Valentino Lassiter. He was a professor here who shed a lot of light on race relations and things like that,” explained Flores.

Winning the award came with presenting a workshop on how JCU students are continuing Martin Luther King Jr.’s dreams of equality. “The whole objective of the award is how are we continuing the dream, in honor of MLK,” said Flores.

Flores reflected on her prize-winning essay and other components of her entry. “One of the prompt questions was ‘How will you continue the dream at John Carroll?’ And so I began to talk about my own student activism and what it meant to me. In addition to that, there’s a project proposal, and it’s something that you will bring to campus.”

Flores had opted to finish a project she had already begun to work on during the fall semester as a Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion intern. She studied “activism at John Carroll from 1960 through 1980, and compared it to other Northeast Ohio colleges during that same time.”

She managed to find relevant information from nearly every single year within that time frame. “A lot of the things I found were super eye-opening,” Flores said.

The process of conducting localized research was quite intricate, disclosed Flores. “I worked with the University archivist, Laurene DiCillo, and went into the metadata and acquisitions in the Grasselli Library to look at every single [JCU] yearbook from 1960 to 1980. I went through Carroll Collective, where I found various editions of The Carroll News from those times, and there were so many interesting headlines that I found that I tried to incorporate.”

One of the components to Flores’ project was creating a photo spread from the various yearbooks, which will be displayed in the library right across from Starbucks until the last week of March. “There’s pictures, little descriptions and the learning goals and objectives of the entire exhibit.”

Flores presented her final workshop on Tuesday, Feb. 26, which consisted of her presentation and a student panel. “The objective was to have it very JCU-specific, and have it from the past to the present with the student panelists, and the future when we played the American Dream game, which is a game examining identities that you might not always see at John Carroll, and how we can be allies to those identities.”

The goal of Flores’ entire project was to look at “what was there and what was not there in terms of student activism, and what did that mean at the time.”

Flores noted that some of the things she found to be student activism were quite surprising, including several new groups formed to reflect different aspects of culture at the time.

“One thing John Carroll students can do to continue the dream is to just listen, and not just hear; educate others, and not just yourself; and just think about what you say before you say it because you never know who you’re saying it to.”