Sharing My First-Generation Story: Salvador Jiménez-Flores

Salvador Jiménez-Flores

Assistant Professor Salvador Jiménez-Flores is an interdisciplinary artist born and raised in Jalisco, Mexico. Jiménez-Flores is a recipient of the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors Grant, New England Foundation for the Arts Grant, and ThreeWalls’s RaD Lab+Outside the Walls Fellowship and is a 2021 United States Artists Fellow. He received his master of fine arts from Kendall College of Art and Design and his bachelor's from Robert Morris University.

Read on to learn about his experience as a first-generation college graduate, and show your support on First-Generation Celebration Day, Wednesday, February 17.

Why was graduating from college important to you?
My parents’ level of education didn’t go beyond sixth grade and part of it has to do with being pragmatic and the need for them to start working at an early age. I came to this country as a teenager not knowing the language or understanding the education system. For me, graduating from college was a testament to my parents’ courageous act of leaving everything they knew behind with hopes of providing more opportunities to their children.

How did college help your career and creative practice?
As a young undergraduate student, I learned that college does not make the student but rather the students need to take ownership of their own education. For me, the colleges I attended lacked diversity, representation, and inclusion. So, I went outside of those institutions to learn from artists who had similar life experiences, questions, and concerns. I also learned to be curious and open to learning new skills. Everything that we learned in the past comes in handy at some point in our future.

What advice would you give to current first-generation college students?
I migrated to this country with my family. We knew that education would bring more opportunities but we didn’t understand the school system in the US. So, I just asked a lot of questions and I went to the schools that gave me the most money in scholarships. My advice to first-generation students is to obtain as much financial literacy regarding scholarships, loans, and grants as possible. Analyze your family's and your personal financial situations and make decisions accordingly.