Foster Futures: Maria Alejandra Flores Cardenas

Maria Alejandra Flores Cardenas

“I’ll forever be grateful for the immigrant experience,” says Ale Flores (BA 2018), a senior at the Foster School.

Not that it was easy when her family uprooted their life in Culiacan, Mexico, to seek a better future in the United States. She was only eight when they moved to Bellevue. But her family’s response to the challenges and adversity that come with starting over is what defines her today—and has shaped her future.

Reading voraciously when she was first learning English, Flores became fascinated by people from around the world. “I knew even then that whatever I did in life would incorporate a global mindset,” she says.

Her pursuit of Foster’s Certificate of International Studies in Business (CISB) has served this goal. So have internships with the Seattle Mariners, Russell Investments and VinoRai, an importer of Turkish wines.

While exploring new cultures, Flores remains dedicated to her own. She mentors undocumented students interested in business through UW Leadership Without Borders and has vastly expanded the UW Association of Latino Professionals For America. She has worked with Seattle International Foundation to provide connections and increase opportunities for women worldwide.

Flores will intern with Starbucks, an appropriately global company, ahead of graduation next fall. Alongside a career in corporate finance, she also plans to become an asset to a non-profit someday, “ideally assisting communities in need to develop financial literacy.”

Fitting ambition for a product and pursuer of the American Dream.

More about Ale:

Family first: Ale Flores with her little sister and mother, both named Isabel.

What has been your most impactful experience while at Foster?

Being a part of the Undergraduate Diversity Services community, specifically helping rebuild the ALPFA chapter at UW. The Association of Latino Professionals For America (ALPFA) did not have a presence on campus yet there were a few members that were affiliated with the organization at a regional level. After meeting the UDS Director, Andy Marzano, I had the opportunity to become an executive member. I became the VP of Recruitment and was able to grow the contact list to 150 students within five months. Currently, we have a full room at every meeting, committed members and many success stories of opportunities our members would not have been able to attain otherwise. Most importantly, we have created an ALPFAmilia, which welcomes individuals from all background.

Flores on the water with her little sister, niece and cousin.

How are you leveraging your experience at Foster to help you attain your career and life goals?

Getting involved to get to know faculty/staff and students. I enjoy learning from others experiences, and just being able to engage in conversations that have helped me grow as a person.

Is there anything about the Foster culture that you believe will particularly serve you in your career?

There are three. 1. The collaborative environment: I appreciate that Foster is always looking for ways to connect students that have different interests. I personally benefited from events such as the diversity forum and leadership retreat. 2. Having professors from different backgrounds: it is important to have culturally diverse faculty to enhance our learning. 3. Openness to conversation: I have had the opportunity to engage in conversation with Dean Jiambalvo, other faculty/staff, and other student leaders to discuss how we can improve diversity at the Foster School of Business.

What is a “fun fact” about you?

A 10-pound metal plate fell on the side of my head at the IMA two weeks before finals, leaving me to study AND take my finals completely concussed.

Foster Futures is a series highlighting some of the students who are leading the Foster School into its second century—and themselves into promising careers. The series began in the winter issue of Foster Business magazine.