Gerardo Flores, Class of 2015
My name is Gerardo Flores and I am extremely grateful to be standing here today receiving the Bridges Academy Scholarship. I am currently a senior here at the University of San Diego, working towards my major in Theatre Arts and Performance Studies with a minor in Business Administration.
I have been familiar with this University since I was very young. Growing up just across the border in Tijuana, I remember many times going to Mission Beach with my family and wondering what that beautiful castle on a hill was. I never imagined that this castle on a hill was one day going to be the place where I would be blessed to go to school every day, and that only after a year of having transferred into it, it would also become a second home, thanks in large part to the financial assistance that came from donors like you.
Growing up in this border community has been a truly unique experience. It has, in a way, enabled me to truly get the best of both worlds. It has also, more importantly, given me the opportunity to see the reality of the world. Going back to Tijuana on the weekend and seeing children on the streets selling candy for a living not only reminds me of how I have been blessed with so many opportunities, but also of the responsibility that inherently comes after having these opportunities.
My high school, Instituto Mexico, a Catholic institution as well, gave me plenty of opportunities for service, that made me grow as a leader and as a human being, and expanded my horizon to truly look at the needs of my hometown, and the reality of the country I lived in.
However, when I finally switched schools to the other side of the border and started studying at Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College, I discovered another passion of mine that I had not been able to explore so much before: Theatre. My Theatre department in high school was very limited, and Community College put me on a completely different platform, making me consider for the first time that I could indeed make this my career. Although my initial idea was to apply to CSU Long Beach and Fullerton, in great part because of the cost, I was also encouraged to apply to private institutions, and I applied to NYU, The Art Institute in Hollywood, and the University of San Diego. However, when I visited USD for the first time, I noticed something that I didn’t know I had been missing. There was such a strong sense of community, of spirituality and of strong moral values… something I had initially overlooked when applying for a 4-year institution. And when I saw how much I was longing for that (and also how great our small Theatre department was), well, that’s what ultimately made me sure that USD was the place that I belonged to.
One thing that did scare me though, was the cost of this beautiful school. However, my decision was eased when I learned that I was awarded a need-based scholarship, and that I could have the opportunity to receive more scholarships in the future, like the one I am receiving today thanks to you. Thanks to you, I feel that I can truly take advantage of all the opportunities USD has to offer. Although it has only been a year that I have been here, I have been able to build friendships not only in my Theatre Department, but also in groups like PRIDE and more recently, University Ministry. It has also given me the opportunity to participate in exciting activities and classes such as my upcoming Study Abroad Session in the Theatre Capital of London.
As for what the future holds after graduation... although acting has become a huge passion of mine and I will definitely give it a shot, I would ultimately love to Direct, produce or even create my own theatre company. However, I would also love to use these talents for the service of the community. After the courses that I have taken here at USD, I have learned that Theatre is much more than just entertainment and a business, but that it also has the power to bring forth dialogue, and build and strengthen a society. That said, even though it may not be crystal clear right now what the future holds for me, I can assure you one thing of the investment you are making today: It will transcend borders.