Nathaniel Flores ’21
Next Step: Loyola Law School
Nathaniel Flores found the hustle and bustle of freshman year a bit overwhelming, and was cautious about diving into too many new experiences and opportunities. “During my freshman year, one of my biggest regrets was that I was hesitant to get too involved in extracurriculars because I didn’t want to detract from my studies. After a mediocre academic performance my first year I decided to change my approach the following year and get way more involved on campus. Perhaps counterintuitively my academic performance actually improved!” A stellar academic record and rich involvement in extracurriculars has helped him graduate a semester early, and earned him a spot at Loyola Law School this fall.
Law School was always Flores’s goal after college. He chose his history major, not only because of his interest in the past, but because it would prepare him for a career in law. “I think there’s a popular misconception that studying history is ‘memorizing dates and facts’ on multiple-choice exams. That characterization couldn’t be farther from the truth.” In fact, he credits his professors’ individualized feedback with helping him build the analytical skills he needed to make him a strong candidate for law school. “Thinking back to the first history class I took four years ago, ‘Race in Colonial America’ with Dr. Cara Anzilotti to now, I substantially improved not only my writing, but my ability to think critically, analyze primary and secondary source evidence, and craft compelling arguments. The skills that I acquired through my study of history not only made a difference in my law school applications, but I believe have also well prepared me for law school.”
As a member of LMU’s pre-law honor society, Phi Delta Phi, an intern with PESA (Parents, Educators, Teachers, and Students in Action), and co-founder of PESA LMU, Flores became interested in restorative justice practices. During his internship, Flores worked with the Teen Court program, an alternative to juvenile court that allows nonviolent offending youth to have their case heard by a jury of their peers. “Instead of being sentenced to serve time in a juvenile detention center, the diverted youth are given ‘diversion conditions.’ These include a variety of requirements ranging from community service and counseling to participating in an after-school activity or getting tutoring. Overall, my experience with Teen Court has given me hands-on experience in the legal field and provided me with valuable knowledge about how legal processes function,” explains Flores.
While Flores hasn’t chosen the type of law he wants to specialize in, his classes in history and political science exposed him to constitutional law, juvenile law, and restorative justice. He cites Professor Evan Gerstmann’s “Constitutional Law I and II” courses, as helping him understand that many of the important and relevant rights and privileges we enjoy today are recent additions to the Constitution, rather than features of the original document. Gerstmann also served as a faculty advisor during his research on restorative justice methodology. “Through my research, I learned how youth tried in juvenile court were more likely to recidivate than youth who agreed to restorative justice practices. This research experience gave me the empirical backing to support my belief in restorative justice and exposed me to a variety of criminal justice issues plaguing youth today.”
When he wasn’t busy with his Pre-Law work, Flores also devoted time to the Crimson Circle service organization. “The dedication to service at LMU is really inspiring on multiple levels. Whether it be at a service site, a general meeting, or just while hanging out with fellow members – LMU students really demonstrate a desire to connect with and help others in whatever way they can. I think that attitude is really contagious.” This experience has inspired Flores to use his law career as an instrument for creating social change and advocating for those in need.
On-campus experiences were something Flores missed while campus was closed during the pandemic. His desire to return, and inability to do so in his final year, informs his advice to rising seniors: “don’t take it easy in classes and stay dedicated to your studies, and appreciate the little things about campus. While there are always opportunities to continue learning throughout life, there’s nothing quite comparable to a college education. Since we’ve been unable to return to campus given the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve often found myself reminiscing about my first two and a half years on campus ranging from Fallapalooza to even just waiting in line at Roskis for lunch before a class. When you return to campus this fall, take nothing for granted and make the most of every moment during your final year at LMU.” As for incoming freshman, he advises them not to wait to get involved with extracurriculars on campus. “Getting involved early during your college experience is valuable in a variety of ways. It gives you an opportunity to make friends, build up your resume, and learn from others who may share similar career goals to yourself. Take advantage of all LMU has to offer as early as you can and you’ll be set.”