by Alex Z. Salinas (B.A. ’11, M.A. ’19)
The summer entering her sophomore year of college, Midori Flores, an Environmental Science junior at St. Mary’s University, began work on her first children’s book.
“I went to Michigan State University for a BPNP (Bridge to Ph.D. in Neurosciences Program) internship and during down times, being alone on the campus, I got in the writing mood and put pen to paper,” she said.
The San Antonio native, who said she comes from a large family and has been writing creatively ever since she could “hold a pencil,” cemented the idea for her book after a chat with her older sibling.
“I was talking to my sister and it was Black History Month, and she said she really wanted to teach her daughters about the history,” Flores said. “It got me thinking how parents just need a way to start the conversation.”
We Are All Human, published on Nov. 30 through IngramSpark, is Flores’ attempt at “celebrating the power and beauty of equality,” according to the book’s cover.
The story follows a mother who raises her son to treat all people with respect, no matter their cultural backgrounds.
Illustrated by Patricia Riojas, an artist from San Antonio, We Are All Human took Flores — age 21 — about two years to complete.
Although Flores is now a published author, she remains passionate about studying environmental science, particularly environmental health and the harmful chemicals that “take a toll on our health.”
As a John Jay High School student, Flores participated in a science fair in which she created latex gloves with silver nanoparticles — the idea aimed to help “prevent bacteria from spreading on the gloves” — and subsequently she received an academic scholarship to St. Mary’s University.
During Flores’ junior year of high school, she attended St. Mary’s University’s Environmental Science Summer Camp and met her future mentor David Turner, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Environmental Science.
“She never complained, was always ready with a smile, and just did what needs doing,” Turner said. “She continues to do that as a St. Mary’s student.”
Turner, a voracious reader and member of a book club at St. Mary’s, believes literature reflects the sciences, bolstering our understanding of it.
“I try to use literature in my classes as a reference point for my students,” he said. “Environmental science and geology influence the environment that writers are experiencing as they write, and I try to help students see that influence. It can be direct like Thoreau’s Walden, or perhaps less direct.”
Following the release of We Are All Human — available for $16 through Amazon and the Barnes & Noble website — Flores is working on a horror novel and plans to pursue a Ph.D. in environmental science.
Until then, she’s focused on getting through school in an online format during an unprecedented pandemic.
“The Marianist spirit is the foundation of everything here, so it makes things easier,” Flores said of St. Mary’s. “We’re such a close community and everyone has been very helpful and considerate of each other.”