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Going Global for Juvenile Justice

Tuyishime “Flo” Florance ’22 has already been on an incredible journey. Born in Tanzania, she and her family fled to the U.S. in 2008 to escape the Burundian Civil War. Moving from Vermont in 2014 to attend Des Moines North High School, Florance was determined to attend college and use her degree — and unique life experiences — to make a difference.


The first-generation student and Wesley Service Scholar graduated from Simpson this spring with a double major in criminal justice and human services. Florance’s heart for service is closely tied to the love she feels for the people of her African homeland. During college, she had bittersweet experiences returning to Tanzania and Burundi, where she encountered a lot of homeless children.

Of course, Florance is quick to add that she’s also unfortunately witnessed plenty of painful poverty while living in the U.S.

“It’s one thing to hear about it when you’re very privileged and you live in the suburbs,” says Florance. “But it’s another thing to walk outside and realize, ‘Oh my gosh! It’s right there.’ Having seen it definitely makes me want to do more.”

Helping troubled youth is among Florance’s primary passions. Her senior year internship at the Polk County Juvenile Drug Court gave her a behind the scenes look at the juvenile justice system and the circumstances influencing and impacting young law offenders.

She’s also worked and interned as a youth counselor for two Des Moines area non-profits dedicated to helping juveniles involved in criminal behavior find a better path. In doing so, she’s gained invaluable insights about providing youth with the support they need to thrive and make
better choices.

“The biggest part is providing them the same opportunity other kids are getting,” says Florance. “A lot of these kids getting into trouble are coming from very impoverished areas where they don’t have the same access to resources everyone else is getting.”

Setting the stage for success

Florance says she is certainly grateful for the resources available to her at Simpson, including the mentoring faculty who personally invested in her success. Next, she’s headed to law school, at the University of Kansas.

Having a law degree, Florance says, will position her to have a direct impact on the U.S. juvenile justice system and the young people it affects. Ultimately, she is hopeful of returning to Tanzania, where she says she can give back by serving youth in so many different ways related to policy making and resource development.

Yet, even as she dreams big, Florance is mindful of managing her expectations.

“My biggest takeaway is to focus on the one person that you can make a difference with. You’re going to be working with a lot of kids from different backgrounds and it’s going to be hard to save them all. But when you save at least one, that’s all that matters.”