Osvaldo’s Story
Osvaldo Flores

Osvaldo’s Story

Osvaldo's Story

Osvaldo Flores came to Berea a member of two protected classes: a gay man and the child of undocumented immigrants, who, until recently, was not eligible to attend college in the U.S.

Osvaldo moved from Mexico to Georgia when he was three years old. Though his parents were undocumented, and therefore him as well, Osvaldo grew up as an American. “Before I graduated high school in 2012,” he said, “I was told that I could not attend any college or university.”

In 2012, though, President Obama instituted a policy called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which allowed children of undocumented immigrants to stay in the country legally so long as they met certain conditions, like attending college or serving in the military.

Berea College extended an invitation to him, along with 30 other Appalachian DACA students, and Osvaldo discussed his status at the opening convocation that year. While most returning students knew about DACA students on campus, Osvaldo believes that speaking to the campus community was important because he humanized the issue just by "visually representing and embodying that status."

In the same way, Osvaldo embraces the chance to represent his other status as a gay student. “When I worked for the union (AFL-CIO), they taught me ‘the story’ is what you carry on, it defines who you are and what you stand for. That is how you educate people about who you are.”

Osvaldo says Berea has provided an environment where he feels safe to be open about his identity. “From the first moment, I was open, and they welcomed me as if I was already a part of the community. I feel safe here on campus.”

Safe in his campus community, Osvaldo ran for president of the student body and won. With activism as his main hobby, the political science major has become a community leader both on and off campus. He has participated in discussions held in Old Town (one of Berea's arts centers); with Kentuckians for the Commonwealth a regional organization committed to economic and social justice; and in campus based groups like Pulse and the Harvey Milk Society that promote equality among all peoples.

Read more about Osvaldo in the Berea College Magazine.