Cindi Flating, '78
Originally published September 2006
Meet Cindi Flating!
Cynthia “Cindi” Flating learned at an early age that hard work is imperative in order to reach a high level of success in life. “I was the only child in my grade school who didn’t get to see the Beatles on Ed Sullivan,” she says with dismay, referring to her parents’ no-television policy on school nights. “What an outcast! But I guess that doesn’t matter now.”
Apparently, it doesn’t matter, as Cindi has gone on to achieve greatness in her life, both of a personal nature and through professional advancement. Much to our delight, she credits a great deal of her accomplishments and happiness to the University of South Carolina, where she earned a master of criminal justice degree in 1978.
Right Time, Right Place
When Cindi selected South Carolina and its flagship university as the place to call home for two years in 1976, she did so precisely because of the educational progression that an advanced degree brings with it, and she wanted to be taught by the best.
“The professors were a draw, they were the top of the line,” Cindi recalls. “I had fun. I worked during the day as a research assistant, which provided me an opportunity to spend time with my professors,” she explains. “Then I’d go to class at night and study at the library until two in the morning.”
Perhaps not a typical collegiate experience, but it is indisputably one that left indelible, cherished pages in Cindi’s personal collection of memories.
“I feel that I received such a great education,” Cindi explains. “The whole experience was the total package, really positive. It was the right time to be there, the right people to be with. Not to mention the ambience – I absolutely loved that library, and the campus is just so beautiful.”
Though this devoted alumna has not been on campus since the 1990s, she plans to return someday soon with her husband, Bob.
“I want to see my personalized brick on the Horseshoe,” she says with delight. “My husband has to see that – I can’t wait to go back there.”
As a 26-year, card-carrying member of the Carolina Alumni Association, she truly loves the university and says she owes it to Carolina and to herself to commit herself to such a relationship.
“Simply put, I want to do something good for Carolina. After all, it has done so much for me.”
“It’s All Been Good”
Cindi jokes about how she and a fellow classmate, with whom she’s still in touch, used to banter along the walkways of the campus, debating a career in law enforcement versus one in corrections, with Cindi taking up for the former, her specialty of choice – a career that has served her well.
Cindi currently serves as management program officer for the port of entry at Honolulu International Airport, working for U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The job includes supervising the administrative staff and overseeing finance, procurement, human resources, logistics, property and vehicles.
Needless to say, it’s not a light load to bear.
“There’s only one of me in all of Customs here in Honolulu,” Cindi explains. “The position is tailored for someone with my background.”
Cindi’s background not only includes a bachelor and master degree in criminal justice, but also a master of business administration, which gave her momentum to become involved with various boards, including serving as vice president and president of a credit union on a voluntary basis.
“Did I plan out my education and professional experience to bring me to a position like this, especially one in administration?” she asks rhetorically. “Actually, no, this has just happened, similar to how my career has gone throughout my life. But it’s perfect for me – no one can pull the wool over my eyes, because I’ve already been out in the field. I know what goes on.”
“Plus, it’s gotten a little old for me to take part in hand-to-hand combat,” she laughs. “It’s been a great ride. I think the education at Carolina really helped me set my sights on big things.”
“As for where I am now – it’s all just happened, and it’s all been good.”
A Long Way from Carolina
Cindi grew up an only child with a colorful array of hometown zip codes, including those in New York, Illinois, Florida and Georgia, eventually leading her to her “true” hometown of Honolulu.
“I’ve lived here more than anywhere else in my life, and I consider it to truly be my hometown,” she clarifies. “I love the climate, the people and the many islands, each unique in its own way.”
Cindi’s favorite island is Molokai, which she describes as “the Hawaii of yesteryear,” with only one stoplight and no fast food.
Outside Magazine goes one step further: “Molokai is the wildest and most mysterious of the Hawaiian Islands – sparsely settled, sporadically visited, fiercely independent, and protected by the world's highest sea cliffs.”
Molokai, by all accounts, sounds like the perfect destination for a high flyer who lives each day and cherishes the joys in her life with all the excitement of a child, yet embraces the perspective that her 50-some years have afforded her. Plainly put, Cindi appreciates what she’s dealt each day.
One might argue, though, that just about anyone can learn to give thanks for a life like hers, especially the part about visiting the gorgeous, isolated island untouched by today’s worldly favors.
But to some, the grass is always greener. Cindi tells us joyfully of the local Hawaiians’ love for the place most lauded for worldly pleasures – none other than Las Vegas, city of sin!
“It has been my experience that people in Hawaii love Las Vegas, they love to gamble,” she says without giving it a second thought. “I’ve heard of locals dropping their friends off at the airport for a trip to Vegas, with nothing in hand but a wallet. Without luggage or a hotel room booked, they buy a ticket at the counter and jump on the next plane to join their friends!”
Slot machines and bright lights might draw Hawaiians to Vegas, but for Cindi, her October visit is for another reason, perhaps a subconscious way of checking something off her to-do list, baggage from her days in elementary school.
“Bob and I are going to Vegas next month to see the Beatles tribute show featured by Cirque du Soleil, among other things,” she reveals.
For some, visiting Vegas is a once-in-a-lifetime event. The thing is, for Cindi, a trip to Vegas is tame.
Work Hard, Play Harder
Though Cindi was reared a disciplined only child, and the mentality to be successful and strong has clearly helped her through life, she hasn’t abandoned the anticipation one experiences in her youth.
Her strict upbringing aside – or is it the joy of success learned so young that has brought her to this place? – Cindi has developed a taste for adventure, one that she has indulged on an occasional parasailing thrill or scuba-diving journey. The most intoxicating one, though, was when she took a ride in an acrobatic plane.
“My husband was about to pass out when he saw what I was getting myself into, especially when he saw it flip upside down,” she laughs. “He doesn’t like to fly.”
So what’s next on Cindi’s to-achieve list?
“There’s only one thing left, and that’s skydiving,” she states in a matter-of-fact tone. “I’m just afraid that I’m going to get hurt on that one!”
As if that could stop her. Cindi’s life is an action-packed, activities-filled series of days that bring her great joy. From hiking to visiting volcanoes, aerobics to serving as a trainer for the Great Aloha Run each year, Cindi Flating is nothing if not tireless and hard-working, be it in the office or during play.
That said, when the day is done, she settles down – just like the rest of us – as she nestles in the retreat of her home, contented and calmed with Bob and their cat, Handcuffs, getting ready to watch the big Gamecocks game.