Gloria Torres, Bachelor of Arts in Modern Language, 1996
Throughout her life, Gloria Torres created her own pathway to success. A tireless advocate for her community and passionate about education, she is proudly serving as the first Latina elected to the Oklahoma City Public Schools (OKCPS) Board.
When Torres’ daughter Sarah Miller thinks of her mother, two words come to mind: strong and determined.
“Her being [at UCO] was the perfect setting for her,” Miller says. “It really helped flourish her passion for education, for being in the classroom. No matter what she’s doing, education is the first thing on her mind.”
After earning her undergraduate and graduate degrees, Torres went on to serve as assistant principal at Capitol Hill High School. Staying true to her roots, she spent more than 25 years in public education – a testament to her dedication toward the education sector.
In 2004, she became OKCPS’ first Latina principal and was later named Principal of the Year by the Oklahoma Association of Bilingual Educators.
“She has a cultural understanding – she knows the needs, the family dynamics in the schools and in the community,” Miller said of her mother’s impact.
Torres now is the executive director of the Historic Capitol Hill Business District. In her role on the OKCPS Board of Education, she represents District 6.
“Looking back at where she started and where she’s ended up, it’s a complete 180,” Miller says. “She’s a role model to me, my kids – kids in the area. Somebody made it. There’s a lot to look up to… to admire… a lot to be proud of.”
Central Effect: How UCO Shaped Gloria
What clubs were you involved with on campus?
Although student clubs were not really an option for me at the time, the culture of the university was welcoming to me as an adult student. My professors were supportive and regularly allowed me to bring my daughter to evening classes.
Did you have a standout professor who impacted you?
The guidance from the foreign language department chair provided me with a path to achieve my goal of obtaining my teaching degree. I graduated in the spring of 1996 and was teaching as a fully certified teacher in the fall of 1996.
Where did you live on campus?
The support I received at UCO guided me to the married student housing. This allowed me to live on campus with my daughter at a cost that was manageable with student loans and grants. I still had to manage the overloads, study time and part-time work.
Tell us about a recent impactful project?
In 2018, I was recruited by the secretary of education of Puerto Rico. My role was to support recovery efforts from the devastating Hurricane Maria aftermath and design the restructuring of the family and community engagement plan.
What do you enjoy in your downtime?
I enjoy the grandma life with my daughter, son-in-law and my three grandchildren.