Flash Mob Shocks Senior Stephanie Torres

May 23, 2016

Stephanie Torres (L) and her Safeway coworkers.
Credit Zoe Sobel/KUCB

Most high schoolers have a pretty easy life -- school, homework, and maybe an extra curricular or two. But not Stephanie Torres. 

On top of her schoolwork, the 20-year-old works as a checker at Unalaska's Safeway. Today, there are lots of customers. Customers stretching halfway across the store. And they’re all waiting for her.

"Did I get set up?" She asked.

For almost 30 minutes, people have filed through Stephanie’s line and after buying an item; they give her an envelope and maybe a hug. All part of a “Flash Cash Mob” to recognize Stephanie.

See, on top of being a fulltime high school student, Stephanie is helping support her family -- her mom, her dad, her five brothers and sisters, herself, and from time to time her grandparents. That’s seven to nine people.

“It’s overwhelming for me to think about and I’m an adult and I’ve raised my children," Abe Palmer said. "But for her, you know, still at a very young age to have been able to do that, that’s is very special.”

Palmer is Stephanie’s boss and the Safeway store manager. For the past three years, Stephanie has been working as a checker at the store. 

She moved to Unalaska from the Philippines in 2008. At the time, her grandparents lived here and they petitioned for her family to move to the United States for a better life.

And -- according to Unalaskan Erin Enlow -- Stephanie is taking advantage of all her opportunities.

“I gave her a hug and I told her that she was one of my heroes," Enlow said. "Because she is taking care of her family in her senior year -- the busiest year ever -- not just showing up to school, but performing highly at school and she’s just, she’s got a full plate that a lot of people much older than her don’t achieve.”

This year, Stephanie was first place in the state for advanced word processing. A completion that values speed and accuracy -- more than three mistakes and you’re out.

Skills that she will take into her new job as finance assistant at Matson here in Unalaska. And on the weekends, you’ll still be able to find her at Safeway’s cash registers.

Stephanie says she’s found jobs that encompass all her childhood interests.

“When I was a kid, I liked cash registers," Stephanie said. "And cause I really liked working with computers I was thinking all the jobs that I liked when I was a kid, I have it now.”