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Rising to the Challenge

A senior international relations major and writing minor makes her mark in and out of the classroom.

Portrait of Pamela Flores at Maxwell. Click to read story.
Pamela Flores ’21 is looking forward to joining the workforce for a couple of years before going back to school to earn an M.B.A.

When Pamela Flores ’21 first came to Syracuse University from her home in Lima, Peru, one of the things that impressed her most on her campus visit was the breadth of majors and schools available to students. Although she was intrigued by the world of government, Flores says she was also apprehensive of studying politics, since Peru has a stigmatized view of how politics work. However, she was drawn to many of the courses offered by the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. “Seeing how I could actually make a change really inspired me,” she says. “It was a possibility for me to do something for my country.”

I have been fortunate to have encountered professors that believed in me and my potential.

—Pamela Flores ’21

Flores is majoring in international relations and minoring in writing, something she loved to do since she was a child, through the College of Arts and Sciences | Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. She says she feels “blessed” to be a student in both schools, adding that many of her professors became her mentors. “All the professors at the Maxwell School are always willing to help. Since it’s a small school, I feel like you get to know your professors. They all believed in me and motivated me. I always felt heard and supported during office hours.” Flores says that Francine D’Amico, the director of undergraduate studies in international relations, gave her the confidence to speak her mind during a class in which she was the only first-year student. “To date, she continues to support me in my projects and my future aspirations.”

Honors and Opportunities

Flores is a Renée Crown University Honors Program scholar and she traveled to Geneva, Switzerland, in November 2019 to attend the COP3 Minamata Convention on Mercury, an environmental agreement that addresses specific human activities which are contributing to widespread mercury pollution, for an Honors course on environmental justice.

While there, Flores and her classmates—the only students to attend the convention—sat in on sessions and had a chance to interact with some of the presenters and representatives. One session about mining in Peru, a topic she feels strongly about, stood out to her. “It was amazing to see them address how people are actively searching for solutions for pollution caused by mining,” she says. Flores wrote a research paper that explores what she learned about the use of mercury in Latin America, which she hopes to publish.

Toward the end of her first year at the University, Flores was invited to join the Phi Eta Sigma honors society for first-year students. Honors societies are not widely available in the Peruvian school system, and the invitation surprised her and inspired her to keep her grades high.

The one thing that I never really understood until I actually enrolled in this University, is what it means to have a second home. To be part of the Orange family to me means holding pride in this new home that Syracuse University has become.

—Pamela Flores ’21

Flores is also a member of Sigma Iota Rho, the honors society for international relations majors at the Maxwell School. As a member, she’s able to network with alumni, attend educational workshops and potentially have a research paper or thesis published in its journal, which she plans to dedicate time to in the coming months. In addition, she pursues other interests by being an active member of the Syracuse University Real Estate Club and the Fashion and Design Society.

Helping Out in Uncertain Times

Portrait of Pamela Flores outdoors at Maxwell.
During the height of the pandemic, Flores started a small businesses selling resuable silk-satin masks with the help of her brother and friends.

When the pandemic hit, Flores found herself unable to travel back to Peru, so she stayed with her brother in New York City when classes finished. What she observed while there both saddened and inspired her. She noticed how many people—especially those her own age—were not wearing face masks due to breathability issues and a lack of comfort. She decided to create something that was functional and desirable to wear. Her small business, Merak NY, opened last July and sells reusable silk-satin masks. The enterprising senior bought her first sewing machine and learned how to sew and make the masks in just two weeks.

For several months, Flores operated the business by herself, but since its success—due in part to being featured by social media influencers and on blogs—she’s recruited her brother, whom she also credits with giving her the support she needed to start, to build the website and some friends to assist with making the masks. There’s been high demand, but despite the success, she views this as a way to not only honor the loss of her uncle to COVID-19, but also do something good for her generation. Flores says she wouldn’t have had the confidence to start this business if it weren’t for her experiences in her classes and the Real Estate Club. She recalls working on a project for one of her writing classes in which she had to conduct in-depth research on a hospitality group which taught her about the ins and outs of the business world. “Even though I couldn’t enroll in business classes since I’m not in that school, I always study business when developing projects for classes so I can learn it more and implement it in real life scenarios.”

With graduation around the corner, Flores is hoping to gain work experience before going back to school to earn an M.B.A. In the future, she hopes to combine the work she has focused on as part of her major with business.

Making Her Mark

Flores was flattered to be one of the students selected to represent the Honors Program in the year-end fiscal giving effort as a Make Your Mark ambassador.

“I was really excited about becoming a Make Your Mark ambassador, because I could speak to all international students who, like me, travelled long distances to make Syracuse their new home,” Flores says. “I have been fortunate to have encountered professors that believed in me and my potential. Syracuse University has changed my life, and this campaign is one way I can give back.”

She was especially honored to be selected, because she’s come to see the Orange community as a family, especially being so far away from home. “The one thing that I never really understood until I actually enrolled in this University, is what it means to have a second home,” she says. “To be part of the Orange family to me means holding pride in this new home that Syracuse University has become.”

Lisa Maresca

This story was published on .


Also of Interest

  • The College of Arts and Sciences

    The founding college of Syracuse University remains at the center of undergraduate learning. The College is divided into the natural sciences and mathematics, the humanities, and the social sciences, with the lattermost offered in partnership with the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.

  • Syracuse Stories

    The Orange story has thousands of chapters. Discover some of the people, programs and research that fuel Syracuse University's undeniable spirit.