WSP 2020 University of Michigan Cohort Spotlight: Esteban Barfknecht and Koral Flores

Esteban Barfknecht, active duty in the U.S. Army


Esteban Barfknecht

What was your educational experience prior to WSP? Would you consider yourself a confident student?

I had completed 30 credits at my local community college prior to attending the WSP humanities program. I didn’t feel really confident as a student previously. I have worked hard and have 3.5 GPA, but it was through a lot of long hours and I was constantly checking my grades. As soon as I turned in an assignment, I would nervously check my grades waiting to see how I did.

Had you participated in any sort of virtual learning before? If so, how does your WSP experience compare to that?

I had done a one-day analytical reading seminar with WSP. The one-day seminar was fantastic and covered the same material that was covered in the week-long course. The weeklong course was fantastic.

Why were you excited to participate in WSP this summer?

I was excited for the opportunities to work with professors and students from one of the top-ranked universities in the nation.

What have you learned so far that you think will be helpful as you pursue your degree?

Even though I want to pursue a degree in nursing, I really thought that the humanities program helped me become a better reader. I believe that being able to read effectively and for content will help me while I continue along my degree path and in the future when I go for an advanced degree. It also really helped me greatly with my confidence in my writing.

What was your favorite session, and why?

I really enjoyed the first unit and getting to interact with professors in ways I don’t think I would be able to in any other situation.

Are there any instructors or fellows who have made a difference for you at WSP?

Professor Karen Springsteen and Cassie Michael were amazing in their help with my writing. I went from feeling unsure about the quality of my writing to believing that I was capable of more than I believed before the class had begun.

Is WSP having any effect on how confident you feel as a student?

I absolutely feel that my confidence as a student has greatly improved. My confidence in my reading and writing has grown greatly, much more than I ever would have imagined it could have in a few short days.


Koral Flores, U.S. Marine Corps veteran


Koral Flores

What was your educational experience prior to WSP? Would you consider yourself a confident student?

My education experience prior to WSP was minimal. I had completed four classes with Arizona Western College while active duty. I would definitely not consider myself a confident student. I rarely asked for help and would use Google instead of my professors. While I still got my answers, I could have made life easier if I would have just asked during in-class instruction.


Had you participated in any sort of virtual learning before? If so, how does your WSP experience compare to that?

I have never experienced virtual learning prior to WSP, but the seminar I attended with WSP was great!


Why were you excited to participate in WSP this summer?

My career planner explained that WSP was a great place to connect with other service members and gain information for higher education. I was pretty interested in gaining more information to prepare me for higher education and WSP did not disappoint.

What have you learned so far that you think will be helpful as you pursue your degree?

Analytical reading! This is probably the best tool I will be taking with me to pursue my degree plan in Environmental Science.

What was your favorite session, and why?

Overall, my favorite session was being able to ask WSP alumni questions. I enjoyed hearing others' stories about their struggles and how they overcame, how far in their education they have come, and how some paid for it without using their GI Bill. Prior to WSP, I did not personally know other service members actively furthering their education. It really opened my eyes that there is so much more we can do to continue excelling after our military service contracts are up.

Are there any instructors or fellows who have made a difference for you at WSP?

Luis was absolutely great to work with! Due to COVID-19, most daycares are closed, which meant my toddler was home with me during the seminar. He was very professional and super understanding when I had to step away to care for my toddler. This may seem like something super simple, but it means a lot as a parent.

Is WSP having any effect on how confident you feel as a student?

I recently received my acceptance letter for a college I applied to in New York. When I submitted my application in early July, I was unsure of myself. I asked myself, can I handle the workload while caring for a toddler and being pregnant? I was already dreading long nights and missing out on more milestones for my kids. WSP gave me the confidence I needed by providing strategies on how to manage my time and to communicate with professors. I know I will be perfectly fine in the next few months as I welcome a new baby while maintaining a heavier course load thanks to the Warrior-Scholar Project!

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