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Alumna brings wealth of public service experience to helping the elderly in broader fields
by Mary Denny
Growing up in Floresville, Texas, Benecia Flores never thought she would become an attorney. She saw too many TV shows and movies depicting lawyers, most of whom were litigators, and had “no desire, then or now, to argue like that.” Instead, Benecia initially wanted to become a coroner. “Morbid, I know,” she laughs.
At Trinity, Benecia found “the ease of high school did not carry over for me,” and she admittedly made poor grades. It was unnerving and shook her confidence, but looking back, “that humbling experience was the best thing that ever happened to me.” She also realized that lacking a solid background in science would make graduating in four years impossible. She abandoned premed for a more realistic path focusing on her interest in human thinking and behavior. “I didn’t give up, I didn’t stay down. I overcame my defeat and poor time management decisions, raised my grades, and still managed to graduate on time,” she says proudly.
While helping her favorite professor, sociologist Cynthia Gentry with a research project analyzing how the elderly were portrayed in greeting cards, she found that they were more often made fun of than revered. “Little did I know that would be the beginning of a career focused on helping the elderly.”
After a brief stint in the warden’s office of a private prison, Benecia began her career in San Antonio with the then-Texas Department of Human Services as a caseworker determining eligibility for Medicaid programs. It was there, over the course of her nine-year tenure, her passion for the field of elder law was born.
In 2006, Benecia moved to Houston for a position as a paralegal with an elder law firm, “mostly for the simple fact that it paid more.” Although that was her immediate concern, she was also excited to move from the public to the private sector and says it wasn’t a career change at all because, “I used every bit of what I learned working for the state every single day.”
It didn’t take long for Benecia to realize that as a paralegal she could only help a client so much. While working full time, she enrolled in South Texas College of Law at night earning her J.D. four years later in May 2016. It was undoubtedly tough and a real test of time management skills, but fortunately, she had “a very strong support system in my family and boyfriend, who encouraged me and still loved me even after all the sacrifice.”
Last March, Benecia joined the all-female Petrosewiez Law Firm, P.C. in Fort Bend County (about 30 miles southwest of Houston), bringing her depth of knowledge to a firm that specializes in estate planning, trust administration, Medicaid, and probate. She is a member of the State Bar of Texas, the Texas Bar College, Fort Bend County Bar Association, the Disability and Elder Law Attorneys Association, and the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. In addition continuing her work in Medicaid planning, she is also deepening her knowledge of estate planning and probate and other related topics. “The constant learning, although overwhelming at times, keeps it fresh,” she says, adding that her long-term goal is to become board-certified in estate planning and probate.
While the previous stress of constantly working or studying for four years left little time for much else, Benecia is now becoming involved in the Fort Bend community. She is a member of the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership 2018 Class and is helping organize a gala to benefit a local hospital. “It’s very refreshing to work and live in a community that helps its own,” she says. Still closely connected to her home community of Floresville, in 2016 she served as treasurer for a friend’s successful run for district attorney for the 81st judicial district.
As befits a descendant (on her father’s side) of the Texas Revolutionary hero and Alamo defender Juan Seguin (he survived the siege because he was sent for reinforcements), Benecia “loves Texas and everything about it.” That includes studying its history, visiting state parks, and road tripping through small towns and discovering what they have to offer. But for now, she is focused on getting to know the Fort Bend community and providing quality legal services to her clients.
You can contact Benecia at benecia [at] gmail.com