Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times | Terms of Service | Privacy Policy

Hard work pays off

Molly Shore

A lot of determination and countless hours spent hitting the books

paid off for Burroughs High School senior Rolando Flores. With a top

grade-point average of 4.6, he is the valedictorian of his graduating


class and will attend Harvard in the fall.

“There really isn’t any formula for it; it’s really all just hard

work,” Flores, 18, said.

A first-generation American, Flores said that by the fifth grade


he became an independent learner, although his Mexican-born parents

consistently encouraged him to excel in school.

“My mother just likes to find a way to get things done, no matter

what, and my father is very determined as well so it just rubbed off

on me,” he said.

Many of the top students at Burroughs this year are Latino, Flores


“It feels really good to show that we’re more than the


stereotypical custodians and gangsters with the flannel shirts,” he


Flores was vice president of the National Honor Society, and has

been a member of the California Scholarship Federation all four years

at Burroughs.

Although he was accepted to Stanford, Flores will head east to one

of the country’s most prestigious institutions to continue his

education at Harvard.


“My first visit to Harvard was a few weeks ago,” Flores said. “I

went to learn about the school, and see what life is like on the

campus. It was an awesome experience.”

Flores, who plays the alto saxophone, is a member of the school’s

band and jazz ensemble. He has also been a member of Interact Club,

the school’s community service organization. Through Interact, he

worked with Washington Elementary School students in their school’s


Principal Emilio Urioste remembers flying to Hawaii with the

school band for a competition in Honolulu when Flores was a freshman.

“I was struck at the time how mature he was,” Urioste said.

While the other students socialized, Urioste said that Flores

brought his textbooks and studied on the plane.

Urioste said even then, he realized Flores was going to be

exceptional as a scholar and a leader.