Loyola Alumnus on track to land Arizona State House seat

Loyola alumnus Flavio Bravo won the Democratic nomination as state representative in Arizona’s 26th Legislative District at just 28 years old. The former Loyola Chicago Student Government (SGLC) president and 2016 graduate is now running unopposed in the general election and is expected to claim a seat in the Arizona House of Representatives on November 8.

For Bravo, entering the political arena was non-negotiable. Growing up constantly exposed to immigrant mistreatment, the Arizona native said he felt running for office was something he had to do.

“There’s a generation of people who are the same age as me, and it’s like we have no choice,” Bravo said. “You see students coming out of class right in high school speaking out against their state legislatures – [that image] stay with you.

Bravo was attracted to Loyola because he valued a Jesuit education and had attended Jesuit schools since he was in elementary school.

“I really appreciated how the Jesuit High School could be open to critical conversations about politics and things that were happening in Arizona,” said the former political science and philosophy student.

Bravo’s upbringing was influenced by his father’s work as a Spanish interpreter for the Phoenix City Court and his uncle’s involvement with labor leader Cesar Chavez, co-founder of the National Workers Association. agricultural. Both personalities instilled in him the value of public service, Bravo said.

Early in his academic career, Bravo said he was motivated to develop social justice initiatives centered on immigration. He had seen Loyola break new ground by allowing Deferred Action Applicants for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) at the Stritch School of Medicine.

In 2013, Bravo attended an immigration conference with Loyola where he saw 24 of the 28 Jesuit universities come together in Washington, D.C. to sign the Fairfield Report, an agreement committed to supporting those seeking DACA status, according to a Loyola press release.

It was on that trip that Flavio met former vice president of student affairs Jane Neufeld, who now works in Loyola’s advancement division, which supports Loyola’s philanthropic initiatives, Neufeld said. Immediately, Neufeld said she was struck by Bravo’s passion for DACA, despite being just a freshman at the time.

“He’s a shining example of the best we have to offer,” Neufeld said. “I think he will be president one day.”

Bravo decided to run for president of SGLC at the end of its second year, with the idea of ​​a scholarship for undocumented students being central to its platform, Bravo said.

After winning election as an underclass, Bravo began work to establish Loyola’s Magis Scholarship Fund, which was approved by the Board’s Finance Committee on December 1, 2015. .

The scholarship, which is funded by a $2.50 per semester increase in student development fees, provides financial support to undocumented students unable to qualify for federal aid.

Bravo launched his campaign for state representative from Arizona’s 26th legislative district in 2021, after Democratic Rep. Raquel Terán moved to the Senate, while Democrat Robert Meza opted out of running. . As a result, two house seats are up for grabs in Bravo’s home state of Arizona.

Bravo said he remembers being frustrated with the Republican rhetoric on immigration, which served as motivation for running.

“It never matched their narrative,” Bravo said. “The Republican Party has been a majority in Arizona for so long, talking about immigration usually meant you were talking about border security and not always talking about the strengths of immigrant communities.”

If elected, Bravo will be one of the youngest in the Arizona state legislature, at 28. Bravo said he thinks back to his election to the SGLC in Loyola, where he won against older opposition.

One of Bravo’s biggest supporters, Sister Dolores Jean Schmidt, BVM, said Bravo initially feared running for office in the SGLC. She said she remembers Bravo calling other Jesuit institutions, asking if any of their presidents were juniors and if they were taken seriously. Finally, after hearing one of them, Bravo found encouragement to run.

Bravo said much of his experience on the campaign trail was influenced by his time at Loyola, according to Bravo.

Before running in the SGLC elections, Bravo had met with student groups, gauging their support. He also remembers designing a donation website for the Magis Fellowship, both of which came in handy when it came time to implement his campaign, Bravo said.

In one of his defining political stances, Bravo attributed being pro-choice in large part to the experiences that come with attending a university that is 66% female, Bravo said, citing Planned Parenthood located in 5725 N Broadway St.

Inside the classroom, Bravo continued its commitment to social justice. Latin American history professor Dr Ben Johnson said he still remembered Bravo’s last article about Ruben Salazar, a Mexican-American journalist and activist killed by police during a protest.

“I teach 40 to 70 students each semester, so the fact that I can remember that says a lot,” Johnson said.

According to Bravo, many Loyola staff, faculty and former peers have rallied around his campaign. Bravo said he was positively surprised by the support he received from the Rambler community.

Loyola’s vice president of government affairs, Phillip Hale, was given Flavio’s name by a colleague. Bravo said Hale introduced him to local, state and federal elected officials while helping him understand the importance of public service. Despite Bravo’s many accomplishments, Hale said he was inspired by Bravo’s commitment to looking forward rather than backward.

“He’s someone we’ll all be proud to say we got to know one of those days,” Hale said. “I’m proud to say it now.”

Jean also echoed the pride of the Loyola community for Bravo’s accomplishments and commitment to Jesuit values.

“The truth is what he believes in and if we can keep politicians like that, we’re going to be in really, really good shape,” Sister Jean said.

Arizona will see Bravo on the ballot on Nov. 8, but all other Ramblers can register to vote by Oct. 8.

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