Growing up on the westside of Corpus Christi, Dr. Fuentes didn’t know he was part of a “minority” group until he left his mostly Hispanic/Latino community and joined the United States Army. He served proudly in four military police operations in Latin America in the early 1990s including Operation Safe Haven. He has met three Medal of Honor Recipients, including SFC Roy P. Benavides and has a commemorative Benavides GI Joe Action figure in his honor. He has made it his mission empower students, staff and faculty and let them know that there is a place for them on campus and that they will be supported as they work to achieve their professional and academic goals.
A Conversation with Dr. Fred Fuentes
What is your proudest career accomplishment?
While at A&M-Commerce, I have co-created various programs including the Sophomore Year Experience (SYE) 2012, the Latino American Mentorship Program (LAMP) in 2015, the Latino Staff & Faculty Association (LSFA) in 2020, and the development of the Camino REAL program for 2021. I do not know of any other university that would have provided the staff empowerment and leadership opportunities to create these life-impacting programs for our university community, aside from this great institution.
What obstacles did you overcome in the past or are you working to overcome to achieve a personal or professional goal?
I am a first-generation college student. Each person that self-identifies as “first-gen” knows the impact that a college career has on their pathway to personal success. I am humbled to have honorably served in the US Army, which provided me with the tremendous resources to earn my college degrees and the mindset to “never quit”. As first-generation students & professionals, many of us do not always know the right pathways, the right strategies nor the right language, but we have a determination to change the narrative of success while ensuring that we stay grounded and connected to serving our communities. This has fueled me to empower more first-generation students and professionals to their own pathways to success and achievement!
Tell us about your family.
My family is my ‘everything’. They are the reason I strive to be a better person. They are my motivation to succeed and to overcome life's obstacles. They encourage me to empower others and to serve my community. Without my family, nothing would matter. The sunrises and sunsets would only be changes in a day. With my family, I am whole. They are daily reminders of love, sacrifice and the opportunity to influence change. The privilege of sharing beautiful sunrises and sunsets with my family makes everything in between those events worth it!
Who inspires you?
I am inspired by women who have overcome obstacles to succeed! I think we are all inspired by “traditionally-minoritized” groups such as women. My daughters, Belén Alexis and Ariana Rose are the new generation of those women who will impact this great nation! Belen is the age of your average incoming freshmen, and has experienced so much in life. She's naturally intelligent, poised, culturally aware and serious about creating her own pathway to leaving a legacy. She's not only smart, she's also beautiful and very thoughtful, I love that about her. Ariana is a beautiful, elementary gifted and talented student that loves school, art, music, dance and science! She loves her big sister and will soon publish her first children's book with her twin brother!
- Ed.D., Educational Leadership, Texas A&M University-Commerce, 2013
- International Health Leadership Certificate, Harvard School of Public Health, 2007
- M.S., Community Counseling, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, 2005
- B.S., Criminal Justice, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, 2002
- A.A., Criminal Justice, Del Mar College, 2001
- Self-Anglicizing of names for Latino populations
- Community and university resources for transitioning veterans & first-generation students
- Public health topics that affect indigenous youth