Although Dr. Maria "Mari" Fuentes-Martin has only been on the job since Jan.14 in her new role as associate vice president and Dean of Students, The University of Texas-Pan American is quickly becoming a place where she feels at home.
Fuentes takes her role at UTPA to heart and considers her position a new and rewarding challenge on which she is willing to take.
"I think any time you step into a new role, you have challenges and opportunities to face and some of these challenges include learning a new environment, procedures, and way of doing things, but the opportunities are meeting new students and being at a larger campus that is more dynamic," Fuentes said.
Fuentes has a B.A. in History and Business Administration and a Master of Science in Administration from The University of Notre Dame.
She received her Doctorate of Education from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi (TAMUCC). Most recently, she served as the associate vice president and Dean of Students at The University of Texas at Brownsville (UTB) and Texas Southmost College since 2004.
Previously, she served as UTB's Dean of Students from 2000 to 2004 and also held teaching and administrative positions while at TAMUCC and The University of Notre Dame.
"In addition to Dr. Fuentes' excellent experience and education, her passion to serve students in South Texas, and her desire to make a difference in their lives, will be invaluable in her new role here at UTPA," said Dr. Martha Cantu, vice president for the Division of Student Affairs. "Her experience of over 20 years in student affairs will be a great asset to the student affairs division and to UTPA."
Fuentes recently joined UTPA students, faculty and staff in Austin for Rio Grande Valley Higher Education Day at the Texas State Capitol.
"It was a great trip and I went on the bus with the students so I could meet them and talk with them," she said. "It was my first Capitol visit with a UT delegation and it was special to run into my UTB former colleagues and student leaders. It's good to have colleagues at both campuses who I can partner with."
Fuentes strongly believes in making a difference in the lives of students when it comes to achieving their goals through education and succeeding in their endeavors after they have graduated from UTPA.
"College is a developmental cycle much like high school was. You come in as freshmen with fresh ideas and hopes and then the hard work of college starts to shape your intellect and your person," said Fuentes. "My passion is to see students succeed and how we get there is the journey we're on."