2019 Best & Brightest: Ale Flores, University of Washington (Foster)

Maria Alejandra Flores Cardenas (Ale Flores)

University of Washington, Foster School of Business

“Mexican-American DREAMER, constantly evolving, never settling, with a purpose to elevate others.”

Fun fact about yourself: Although I have travel limitations due to DACA, I immerse myself in other cultures by being a bookworm and maintaining relationships across the globe.

Hometown: Bellevue, WA

High School: Sammamish High School

Major: Business Administration – Finance and International Business

Favorite Business Course: Competing in the Global Economy

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

Extracurricular Activities & Leadership Roles:

  • The Association of Latino Professionals for America (ALPFA): VP of Recruitment and Senior Advisor, 2016-2019
  • Dean’s Foster Diversity Committee: Undergraduate Representative, 2018-2019
  • Young Executives of Color (YEOC): Mentor, 2018-2019
  • Leadership Without Borders – Purple Group: Member, 2014-2018
  • The Daily, UW Student Newspaper: Advertising Representative, 2015
  • East African Community Services: Tutor, 2014-2015
  • UW Women in Business (UWiB): Member, 2014-2016

Awards and Honors:

  • Zulily Foreign Market Strategy Case Competition – First Place Honors, 2018
  • ALPFA National Convention Scholarship Recipient, August 2016, 2017 and 2018
  • ALPFA Seattle Scholarship, sponsored by Microsoft, 2018
  • Dreamers en Movimiento Conference Scholar, 2017

Where have you interned during your college career?

  • VinoRai: Intern Lead; Seattle, WA
  • Mariners MLB – Marketing Intern & Operations Manager Assistant; Seattle, WA
  • Russell Investments – Alternative Investments Research Analyst Intern; Seattle, WA
  • Starbucks – Corporate Financial Planning & Analysis Intern; Seattle, WA

Where will you be working after graduation? Accenture – Consulting Analyst

What did you enjoy most about your business school? Building relationships and making life-long friendships. Foster introduced me to inspiring individuals who have been influential in my accomplishments. Throughout my time in CISB (Certificate of International Studies in Business), I had the opportunity to meet students from all over the world, and it is exciting to see what they accomplishing in their respected countries. These connections have exposed me to different cultures and how the world operates differently across nations.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? Your voice matters and you can begin to make a difference today. Business has a tremendous impact among people throughout the world and it can be the driver of social change. From helping to establish the Latinx presence at Foster to assisting in foreign market expansions at Russell Investments and VinoRai, I provided input on critical decisions that will have an everlasting impact on other countries. Taking a human-centric approach has brought new ideas to the table various times.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? Do not compare yourself to others and put yourself in situations that will help you be comfortable with making uncomfortable decisions. Case driven courses are a way to put yourself in these situations. However, it is up to you to fuel that discussion and challenge other people’s perspectives. Listening is key.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? It is the importance of real-world experience throughout college. Your business education will provide you with fundamentals, making real-world experience vital in order to master new skills and gain exposure to problems that may evolve as the business world evolves.

“If I didn’t major in business, I would be majoring in or studying…International Politics to continue learning how the world intersects from a policy, and economic perspective.”

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? As an immigrant child, I encountered the difficulties the language barrier posed to both myself and my siblings. My older sister, in particular, had a challenging time acclimating to English as the sole architect of our family’s budget. At 12 years old, I began working with bankers and people who were willing to mentor me through the importance of financial literacy. This experience inspired me to pursue a degree in finance and international business at the University of Washington.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? Building the Latinx Presence at Foster. With the help of five other students, we institutionalized the UW ALPFA Chapter. Previously, students connected with the ALPFA Seattle Regional Chapter to attend a limited number of professional development events. As the VP of Recruitment, I built the contact list from 6 students to 150 within six months. Ever since my focus as a senior advisor has been to implement a growth and retention strategy. This community provides the resources and representation needed for the Latinx community to succeed at Foster.

Which classmate do you most admire? Keenan Goodman is someone whom I respect immensely.

He leads with empathy and puts people first, regardless of the circumstances. Not only has he proven his ability to have a growth mindset, but he also takes the time to influence others on how to gain that skill.

He executes allyship. He takes the time to learn about issues that do not pertain to him and speaks up when it is necessary.

Keenan has motivated me to be a listener and to continue to fulfill my purpose regardless of the circumstances. I have no doubt that Keenan will continue to make an impact in this world.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? Andrew Marzano – Andy is the backbone to the Undergraduate Diversity Services (UDS) program at Foster. Students at Foster would describe Andy as someone who is loyal, humble, considerate, genuine, selfless and most importantly, influential. Andy has motivated me to get out of my comfort zone countless times, making me the leader that I am today. Andy supported me in my vision to create the Latinx presence at Foster by becoming the ALPFA Advisor. His passion for academia has led him to become the Associate Director of UDS and anchor of establishing the Dean’s Diversity Committee. The Dean’s Diversity Committee implements diversity and inclusion initiatives in collaboration with dean-level leadership, faculty, staff, and corporate partners. Andy has taken initiative in ensuring the student voice is heard and for the first time ever, there is an undergraduate and graduate student representative. He has shown me the value of persistence and the value of using my voice.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

  • Travel
  • Learn how to surf

What are your hobbies?

  • Health & Fitness
  • Latin Dancing: Salsa and Bachata

What made Ale such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2019?

“There are certain students who stand out in your career and whom you will remember fondly and with pride for years to come, ironic given that by virtue of their advanced talents and drive, your own hand in their success is likely far smaller than it might be for other students. Ale is such a student for me and, from the fact that her name frequently comes up in conversations with other faculty and staff, I believe for many of us here at Foster. I have known Ale since she was a student in my core Organizational Behavior and Leadership seminar in the spring of 2017. I have been delighted to be able to continue to witness her progress through her active involvement with so many organizations at the UW and Foster. Indeed, every time I attend an event, such as the recent Foster Diversity Forum, I am sure to bump into Ale, cheering on her fellow students or being recognized for another tremendous milestone. As you may be able to tell from this letter, I am very excited to share with you the growth I have seen in Ale and why I can think of no one more deserving to represent us to the community. Let me offer a few more details.

Throughout her time in my classroom, Ale consistently impressed me with her astute insights. In class, she contributed valuable input to the difficult discussion, demonstrating through her contribution a deep rather than superficial understanding of the material and an eagerness to apply class learning to real-world cases. More importantly, Ale consistently stood out as a kind and compassionate young woman eager to help her classmates shine. The primary means of evaluating students in this class was a team consulting projects in which students are required to seek out an organization, identify a managerial problem in said organization, analyze it through systematic research, and draft a consulting report with recommendations and an implementation plan to resolve the problem. I am the one who forms these teams by matching together who are as heterogeneous as possible to offer them the additional challenge/opportunity to learn to work in diverse teams. Ale was integral to this performance and her team members identified her as a leader, rating her as above average on her efforts for the team. In particular, what stood out for me was her ability to lead from behind, that is to help her team perform and her teammates shine without ever dominating the group.

Though above average intelligence and conscientiousness are skills many of our students possess the unique trait that sets Ale apart and will, in my opinion, lead her to great success in life, is her grit. As you may or may not know, Ale is Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient and has had to bear stress and uncertainty in her life that very few of our students will ever fathom. Ale does not hide this fact, nor does she use is an excuse and I have never once heard her complain; instead, she openly shares her story to connect with others and highlight how diversity is our strength. This seems representative of Ale’s larger approach to life, consistently facing every challenge with resourcefulness and perseverance. To offer some concrete example: while enrolled in my class she experienced a job interview in which everything that could have gone wrong did. That very day, she approached me to work out a game plan for how to contact the organization, ideally to still win this job but, at a minimum, to leave a positive lasting impression. Not surprisingly, since that disastrous interview, Ale has leveraged her energy into a variety of high-profile internships with some of Seattle’s largest employers while continuing to excel in her studies. Moreover, when Ale, despite her best proactive efforts, was unable to procure permanent employment because of her DACA status, she made the best of remaining at Foster and turned her energies to promoting others.

On that final note, let me be blunt that I think Ale would have every right to focus every ounce of energy on her own success and self-care. As an immigrant myself who continues to face uncertainty about my family’s status in this country but with the stark difference that I came here of my own volition and have all the resources at my disposal, I cannot imagine how difficult these past years have been for Ale and would not blame her one bit. This makes it so impressive to see her instead give so much time to lift up others. This is not the first letter of support I have written for Ale− the last one was to help her become a mentor for the Young Executives of Color, a vital program at the UW that helps minority high schools students succeed in higher education. In addition, she is also a senior advisor for the Association of Latino Professionals of America, an organization about which I have heard her speak passionately in my classroom, and a sought after public speaker. Finally, she was also the student representative on the Foster Dean’s Diversity Committee during the time when the committee reviewed and implemented a complex diversity and inclusion initiative that has now been embraced throughout the school. Associate Professor Elizabeth Umphress, who served on this committee with Ale, told me “Ale is a skilled leader. Her enthusiasm about equity and inclusion is contagious! She energizes fellow students, staff and faculty alike. She is able to build coalitions and recognizes the importance of acknowledging others even when we disagree”.

To sum, Ale represents the very best of this school and the very best of this country. She is brilliant, kind, and one of the leading voices for the power of diversity among our student body. She is both a ‘Dreamer’ and a Pragmatist who will accomplish whatever goals she sets. I am convinced we will all know her name in the future and will be proud to call her among our alumni. There is no more fitting way for her to start representing us than as a Husky 100.”

Dr. Kira Schabram
Assistant Professor Department of Management and Organizations

Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.