Age not an obstacle for soon to be University of Northern Colorado graduate
Soon has never been soon enough for Paige Flores, and to say she is motivated may be more than an understatement.
At the ripe age of 19, Flores will be walking the stage this weekend to accept a bachelor's degree in environmental studies and sustainability with a minor in economics after only three years. Graduating early has become a trend for Flores, who graduated from Greeley Central High School at 16.
Attending UNC may have been predestined for Flores, whose collective alma maters are all located in Greeley within only a few miles of each other.
Flores accumulated a large number of elective credits by participating in orchestra during the hours before and after school while at Greeley Central. Her amplitude of elective credits allowed her to graduate early.
Flores started at the University of Northern Colorado as a business major before switching to environmental studies and sustainability, but a switch of majors did not hinder her rapid procession through college, and she has no regrets.
"I never really thought about sustainability before coming to UNC, and I never thought I would go in to something like that," Flores said.
In the future, Flores would like to work in resource management and possibly pursue a career in environmental policy. Flores is not daunted by the current state of the job market, but she does worry that necessity may force her to settle for a job that is not related to her degree. In the meantime, she is pursuing an internship in the environmental department at the Colorado Department of Transportation and considering graduate school.
As a graduate, Flores urges underclassmen to pursue their passions and not to be deterred by parental pressure or the appeal of money.
"Go to school for what you want to go school for. Don't focus on the money you are going to make later; don't focus on what your parents want you to go to school for," she said. "i had a lot of friends who had problems like that who were miserable."
Flores managed to finish her degree in six semesters by taking 18 credits each of her first four semesters. In addition to her hefty course load, Flores also worked, all the while maintaining an active social life, frequently attending concerts in Fort Collins and Boulder.
Reflecting on her experience at UNC, Flores expresses a desire to see a stronger relationship between the campus and community.
"We're not a college town," she said. "It's sad, but I have seen a lot change. It is nice to see that downtown is coming back to life in recent years because when I was growing up downtown was dead."
After 19 years of fast-paced education, Flores may be ready for a break. If she does intern at the Department of Transportation, she would like to take a year off and possibly travel.
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