Iliana Flores ’23 is a Graphic Design major. They are the President of the Student Government Association, Student Representative on the Diversity Committee Executive Board, as well as a member of the All College Committee and Building & Grounds Committee.
This conversation has been edited for length.
Cathy Young: Let’s start with you telling me about your internship.
Iliana Flores: I interned with the Philadelphia Eagles this summer.
CY: What did you do?
IF: I was the only intern for the design team. It was a fairly small team, so I was either helping them with their projects or they would give me my own to do.
CY: I’m embarrassed to say I don’t know much about graphic design and the Eagles [laughter] so what kind of projects?
IF: I started with the logo for the cafeteria that serves the players, that was really fun. I also did a logo for t-shirts, they just had a meal-packing event for National Day of Service so over 900 volunteers were wearing my t-shirt. I really enjoyed working with the team.
CY: Tell me about your leadership roles. I know you’re the President of the Student Government Association, so tell me a little bit about that.
IF: I started just as a general body member back when I was a freshman, and between the pandemic and seniors graduating, last year there was a big question of who was going to be on the executive board, and Aliyah [Nelson, former Director of Student Life, DEIA & Title IX Coordinator] asked me to step up. I was really excited and I’ve enjoyed doing what I’ve been doing.
CY: I’m really hoping that you and I can work together this year—in fact, we should get some regular meetings on the calendar because I would love to hear from you what’s on the docket for SGA, what can I help with, any concerns any students have, anything like that.
IF: I think that’d be great!
CY: Is there any other background info about yourself that you’d like to share? Are you from the Philly area?
IF: No, I’m from Jackson, NJ.
CY: Okay, so far away!
IF: Very different from here.
CY: Small town?
IF: It’s still a fairly big town but it’s all woods.
CY: Oh my gosh, so was this like a shock to you, when you first came to Moore?
IF: This was definitely one of the reasons why I ended up choosing Moore.
CY: Cool, so you were drawn to the location. How has that been for you? Do you get out in Philly a lot?
IF: Oh yes, I have loved it. Being around the museums and art institutions and galleries has been really exciting.
CY: So you go out, you see the city, are you living close to campus?
IF: Yes, I only live about a 5-8 minute walk away, right off the Parkway.
CY: Doesn’t get any better than that! So besides the location, what else first drew you to Moore?
IF: I knew someone who was an alum, and actually when I was in high school I was a big athlete.
CY: You were? What was your sport?
CY: Oh great, we need a Moore softball team!
IF: We do! So in high school I was wondering what I wanted to do, and I knew I wanted to do something unconventional. I loved art, and everything started to align. My mom ended up reaching out [to the alum] and asking her what her experience was here, and she loved it. Her talking about the community that Moore has, all of the personal interactions you get to have with professors and the way she got to develop her own craft really hooked me as a senior in high school.
CY: And have you found those things to be true?
IF: Oh, absolutely.
CY: I’m so glad to hear that. Do you think of yourself as an artist or a designer or both? How do you think about that in relation to your work in graphic design?
IF: I think both. I like to say art in terms of more creativity. Design is more like fundamentals, but art encompasses everything that I do.
CY: Beautiful. Do you feel like when you’re designing, that could be something where you’re fulfilling what someone else is asking you to do, but when you’re creating your own art you’re really expressing something that you want to express. Is that accurate?
IF: That is accurate.
CY: Okay, see I’m learning too you know! [laughter] So, you majored in graphic design, you’re getting ready to graduate, you had this fantastic experience with the Eagles, and I think I heard that they asked you to continue working with them?
IF: Yes, right now I’m on a contract basis with them, they just reach out to me for projects they want me to work on.
CY: Super cool! So what do you want to do after you graduate?
IF: I mean, [this experience] has definitely opened up my mind a little more to what I can do with my degree, especially because a lot of the marketing team I worked with were all also designers, so it was interesting to see that side of things. Everyone else I know had this very, like, formal internship, so it was just really eye opening.
CY: Yeah, there’s this big wide world out there of creative work and ways to use your skills that you’ve built here in all different kinds of environments. How do you feel like you’ve grown as a leader during your time at Moore?
IF: When I first came to Moore I feel like I had a good foundation of good leadership because I was also really involved in high school. But I feel like my experiences at Moore have almost given me the keys to be a good leader rather than just knowing what a good leader is.
CY: Was there a certain experience or opportunity that you had that solidified that for you?
IF: In high school it was more like having conversations about what’s happening, whereas here I’m in a position where I can actually help make changes.
CY: Is there any specific example where the students wanted to see some change and you were able to help with it?
IF: I came a little bit late on this, but definitely the gender policy. Watching those conversations unfold during my freshman year, and then finally seeing that change. I was actually looking through my notes recently and all the notes I would take during the meetings, and just seeing the difference from then to now.
CY: So when you came in, Moore was only admitting people who identified as female, correct?
IF: Yes, and there were active conversations for years at that point about students who are trans, and have been here, and have been artists, and were accepted as trans students, but there hadn’t been any change to the admissions policy itself.
CY: That shift in the policy has really made Moore into a truly unique institution and sort of defined the future of what Moore is going to be in a really powerful way.
IF: I think so, too. Especially because these students have always been here.
CY: So there’s maybe a sense of being welcomed in a different way, of being seen. That’s huge, thank you for your work on that.
IF: Of course.
CY: So I have the same question about how you’ve grown as a leader, but about how have you grown as an artist or designer. It kind of sounds like maybe you weren’t sure in high school that this was your focus?
IF: For sure, I definitely had those like classic “I have no idea what I’m gonna do with my life” thoughts [laughter]
CY: [laughter] that’s okay! You were 16!
IF: Yeah. Abandoning softball, which was something I had worked towards for a really long time, was tough. And having to learn a lot about art. I was very timid and very hesitant when I started here, and I think that showed a lot in my work. But I feel so confident in my work now. Just being able to work through projects so much easier, in a better headspace, and it’s definitely because of my professors and my classmates, too. I feel like Graphic Design is a very close-knit department, we are always talking with each other about our work and that has definitely helped me a lot.
CY: That is so wonderful to hear. It sounds like you feel like you were nurtured here in a way that has allowed you to build your confidence. Because you strike me now as very confident—as a leader but also as an artist and designer.
Tell me about an experience you’ve had at Moore that has shaped your career path or influenced your goals for the future.
IF: I was thinking about talking about the Eagles for this. Last semester was our professional development class where we had to get ready for our internship and I worked really hard with my professor, Heather Knopf, to craft my work to be geared towards the Eagles in order to get the internship.
CY: So you were going for that internship?
IF: I was for a little bit. It was toward the end of the semester when it was posted, and at that point I had gotten a few leads but none of them were quite good enough. And we had this conversation towards the end of the semester when they offered to contract me, and I called her over the summer and she told me she has been feeling so bad about saying I shouldn’t take the other internships because she thought for sure the Eagles were coming, but then she was so glad she did because it worked out. Working with the Eagles was such a great professional opportunity for me in general, and working with a teacher who was so supportive throughout the whole experience.
CY: And having the Eagles on your resume will probably open a lot of doors for you.
You talked a little about this already, but tell me about one major aspect of Moore’s history or legacy that you feel will continue to endure and be relevant in the future.
IF: We talked about the gender policy a little bit, but also this past year there has been a lot of recognition for Anna Russell Jones, and I think that as an institution, it is very important for Moore to begin to not only acknowledge their artists of color, but to truly uplift them, and recognize that it’s part of a systemic issue. A lot of white artists have come through here, and there’s been a lot of lack of recognition, so seeing the process of recognizing these artists beginning is great. I think that’s something that definitely should continue.
CY: I agree, so that being said, where do you want to see Moore in 20 years?
IF: I think it would be good to see Moore a lot more diverse. And celebrating their students a little bit more because there are a lot of people here who do a lot of amazing things.
CY: I am definitely here to celebrate the students, and I think you’re right. Our students and our alumni are doing amazing things and we need to tell the world about it, so I appreciate you saying that. That is a key charge for me.
IF: The community is here, and everyone is doing amazing work and it would be important to actually be able to see that.
CY: Now here is a question for you with your SGA President hat on: I think that I need some help figuring out how we can best get that information from the students so we can market it. You don’t have to answer it right now [laughter] but maybe give some thought to it. How do we create processes so the students know how to share their accomplishments so that we know? We want to shout about you all to the world!
IF: I will think about that!
CY: What’s your biggest piece of advice for future Moore students?
IF: I would definitely say get involved. Being more involved in school has done more for me in my experience here than anything else. Not only am I informed about what’s going on, but I have the opportunity to inform that and change things and be in control of my college experience as well.
CY: What’s your advice for me as the new president of Moore?
IF: Honestly, keep doing what you’ve been doing. I’ve heard so much from students already that just you being approachable and approaching students feels like you’re here and you’re listening. You genuinely asking us questions and wanting to know what you can do, as a student it is very much seen and heard.
CY: I’m glad to hear that. I do like to go down and walk around at lunch and I feel like I’m annoying people [laughter] they’re like “who is this person interrupting our lunch?!” But my feeling is that I can’t lead if I don’t know who are students are, if don’t know what our students care about, if I don’t know what they’re not happy about, what they’re worried about, excited about, all of those things. A lot of what I’m doing in these early days is trying to set up a lot of ways for me to hear from students, so I would love your advice for ways to connect with students and have opportunities to get to know them, so think on that.
IF: I definitely will!
CY: I think our alumni who read this get so excited and so proud when they hear from current students. It amplifies for them how special this place is.