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The First Explorer to Become a Mentor

Guillermo Flores joined Explore Austin as a member of the second class of Explorers in 2007. At that time, the Program was in its infancy, and for Guillermo, he had six years ahead of him. He had first become interested in the Explore Program after seeing his friends who were already in the Program become recognized by his teachers for their growing maturity and confidence.

Every month, Guillermo and his team of Mentors and fellow Explorers would gather for their Saturday Challenge, learning the ins and outs of outdoor adventure while forging bonds with each other. As his outdoor skill-set increased, his worldview expanded. One Saturday after the other, Guillermo learned that his Mentors lived a life he had never seen before. They had different jobs than the adults in his community, especially his parents; jobs he never thought to consider for himself. Guillermo began conversing with his Mentors and shaped his dream of a life that grew from his upbringing and expanded from his experiences as an Explorer. He dreamed of a life that included college, a stable job, and maintaining relationships with key Mentors.

“Most of our parents that have jobs work service jobs or construction. Explore Austin gives minority kids, just like me, the opportunity to take the blinders off the dream higher than what’s expected of them.”

This dream carried him through the Explore Austin Program and into college–a place he never thought he would be.

Today, Guillermo is currently finishing up his degree in Construction Science at Austin Community College while simultaneously working as a project manager for a local construction company, Joe Bland Construction. After originally working day and night shifts in the field, Guillermo realized through the model ship of his Mentors that there were other possibilities too. From there, Guillermo took the confidence his Mentors and Explore Austin helped him find and asked his supervisor to shift into office work so that he could begin to learn the skills to become a project manager. Not long after that, Guillermo was promoted.

“Never be scared of any challenges. Explore Austin challenges are different from life challenges but they help you find the inner confidence that you need to succeed in life.”

At the end of 2017, Guillermo was selected to be an Explore Austin Mentor, becoming the first Explorer to ever return as a Mentor. When asked why he applied to become a Mentor, he simply replied, “It is the ultimate way I can help prove the impact of the Explore Austin Program. My Explorers will see somebody who has made it through the program, benefited tremendously, and then know that they too can make it in life. It will really bring it home when they see someone who looks like them succeeding.”