Distinguished history grad to attend Columbia University
August 22, 2023
Cody Flores had set his sights on attending Trinity University in San Antonio after graduating from SAC, so he was disappointed when his application to transfer there was rejected.
That’s when Flores’ friend and SAC classmate Estevon Dehoyos encouraged him to apply to Columbia University in New York City. Dehoyos, a fellow Honors Academy student, had recently been accepted there.
Flores figured he’d apply to Columbia just to see what would happen. He was shocked when he opened the email congratulating him on his acceptance.
“I literally jumped out of my chair,” he said.
Flores was also accepted at several local universities, including the University of Texas at San Antonio, Texas State University, and Texas Lutheran University. But the opportunity to attend the highly selective Columbia, one of the top-ranked universities in the U.S., was too good to pass up.
For Flores, 31, attending an Ivy League university was not even a distant dream when he enrolled in SAC. He had dropped out of high school and spent 14 years working for his father’s air conditioning business. It was a valuable experience, Flores said.
“I learned a lot of life lessons, integrity, respect, the importance of knowledge, things like that,” he said.
Returning to school had been on his mind for a while, but a health scare prompted him into action. He was diagnosed as diabetic and hospitalized for a week with ketoacidosis in February 2021. After recovering, he applied at SAC and enrolled in the spring semester of 2022.
He joined the Honors Academy program in his second semester because he wanted to continue to take classes from a favorite history professor, Dr. Marianne Bueno. Once in the program, he discovered other students who shared his motivation and drive to excel, along with opportunities to volunteer, join clubs and meet new people.
“Overall, the honors program really helped me come out of my shell as a student,” Flores said.
He also appreciated the faculty in the program.
“The professors are just great. I think they’re the best of the best,” he said. "Every honors professor left an impact on me.”
His membership in Phi Theta Kappa also helped him choose Columbia to continue his education. The honor society awarded him a $30,000 scholarship for his first year there.
He graduated in the spring of 2023 as the distinguished graduate of the history program after making the President’s List multiple times at SAC despite taking heavy course loads. He credits his good grades to asking for help.
“I’m not afraid to walk up to someone and say, ‘I really don’t understand this math, can you explain it to me?’” Flores said. “My friend David tutored me for an hour and a half and then all of a sudden I got it.”
He also emphasized the importance of fighting distractions and making time for schoolwork.
“When I have homework, I get it out of the way, get it done, then relax. Basically, you have to make a schedule and stick to it,” he said.
The first-generation college student finished his last three classes over the summer and is weighing his options for his studies at Columbia. He aspires to teach history at the collegiate level and is also interested in a law career. He’s looking forward to making the most of his time at Columbia.
“I’m a little bit nervous, but also excited,” he said. “I think I’m going to like it there.”