SPRINGDALE, Ark. — Former Springdale City Council member Kevin Flores has been accepted into the White House fellow program. He’s the second Arkansan ever to participate in the program, the first being General Wesley Clark.
Flores explains the program as one of the most prestigious leadership programs in the world that allows exceptional emerging leaders to receive first-hand experience in the federal government.
Flores emigrated from El Salvador with his mother and three siblings.
“It got to the point where the tragedy of the Civil War really forced us to flee, and thankfully forced us to leave to come to this great country of ours," said Flores.
At the age of six, Flores says he remembers the long hours his single mother would work which inspired his work ethic.
"We wanted to succeed and get beyond the poultry plants," said Flores. "Attain professions that you know, are admirable, but also allow us to have longevity."
After high school, Flores joined the Marine Corps and was appointed as an embassy guard in D.C. Flores says his interest in the White House fellow program began during his service after reading the biography of General Colin Powell. After his service, he returned to Arkansas where he pursued a law degree.
"I never thought I'd have an opportunity to do this," said Flores. "I didn't go to an Ivy League school. And I'm not from either on the other coast, where the majority of the fellows tend to be picked from."
Growing up in Springdale, Flores says the community helped him get to where he is today. He wanted to get back to the community that gave so much to him and joined the City Council.
“Being this immigrant kid my window on the world was expanded. Slowly but surely, through the investment of my teachers, my mentors, my mom, my friends, and their parents," said Flores.
Springdale Superintendent Dr. Jared Cleveland says Kevin Flores had contacted him around Christmas about the program. Dr. Cleveland says one day they got together in his office and handled the application process together. Dr. Jared Cleveland says stories like Flores are important for inspiring others.
"That is Springdale. And he wanted to give back to the community that gave him so much," said Dr. Cleveland.
“We need young people, doesn't matter who you are, where you come from, to dream, to look out at people who maybe look like them that are successful somewhere else. And maybe call them, email them, ask them, What do you do? How do you do it? And I guarantee you, all of them will say there was a teacher somewhere at some time, that really planted the seed that I could do whatever I needed to do."
"I do believe Kevin will continue to give back to Springdale whether he's doing it in Springdale, or whether he's doing it from another position somewhere else,” said Springdale Mayor Doug Sprouse. “He's always going to have that opportunity. And, and we're proud to be able to claim him as our own and we'll always do that."
"What I'm hoping to get is really just a better understanding of the intricacies of our federal government,” said Flores. “So that I can go back to Springdale, Northwest Arkansas, and the rest of the state and really just to be able to help out in any way I can."
Download the 5NEWS app on your smartphone:
Stream 5NEWS 24/7 on the 5+ app: How to watch the 5+ app on your streaming device
To report a typo or grammatical error, please email KFSMDigitalTeam@tegna.com.