Commencement Spotlight: First-generation student Freddie Cuellar found his calling at UTSA
(May 1, 2017) -- Meet Freddie Cuellar. He's taking his talents as a natural leader into the world of finance.
Born in Hondo, Texas, Cuellar grew up with a deep admiration for his father, a self-made entrepreneur who owns many different businesses around San Antonio.
"I really watched him become the man he is now," Cuellar said. "I saw him go through the struggles to get his businesses financed and how he never let anything set him back. It was inspiring."
Cuellar's upbringing instilled the value of hard work in him, which led to a job as a teller at a local bank while he was still in high school. He discovered he had a knack for finance and once he graduated he knew that he wanted to pursue his degree at UTSA's top-tier College of Business.
"It just made a lot of sense," Cuellar said. "It was nice having my family nearby, and even though finance isn't an easy degree, UTSA did a great job of providing me with the resources to succeed."
He remembers always having the support of his professors, who were willing to meet with him outside of class to make sure he understood the material.
"Finance is a challenging subject, because you're always building on what you've previously learned," Cuellar said. "If you fall behind, you're going to keep falling behind. But my professors always made sure everyone was keeping up."
As a first-generation college student, Cuellar noted that he was lost at times because he felt that he couldn't turn to his parents for guidance about the choices he had to make as he progressed at UTSA.
"It was hard," he said. "I wasn't sure what classes to take or if I was pursuing the right degree at first, but in the end I'm actually happy about that. I know I would have gone down another path if things had been different, but I found my own way and learned to trust my own judgment."
Cuellar applied that confidence to several leadership roles at UTSA. He has served as the president of the Business Student Council, a group that organizes events to teach résumé-building, networking and professionalism to students. He also had a leading role in planning the 2015 Texas Energy Expo, a student-led career fair that brought recruiters from the energy industry to UTSA, allowing students to network and explore opportunities. Planning the event taught Cuellar a lot about large-scale organization and leadership.
"It was like launching a small business, in a way," he said. "We had to have everything in place, and at the time the oil industry was really struggling. We had to work even harder to get some recruiters here, but I think it was a great success and the event has continued since then."
Set to graduate in May, Cuellar is now looking forward to a position at Vantage Bank Texas, where he completed an internship last spring. In his new job, he'll be evaluating small and medium-sized businesses for borrowing opportunities.
"In finance, you can easily find success at a bigger bank, but I wanted to be able to work on a more personal level and help small businesses," he said.
As he looks to the future, Cuellar credits UTSA with preparing him for the next stage of his life.
"UTSA really positioned me for success," he said. "It opens a lot of doors for its students, but it's up to us to make the most of those chances. My dad used to say that you take the bull by the horns, and when you see an opportunity you have to tackle it."
Learn more about the UTSA Department of Finance.
Learn more about the UTSA College of Business.
Learn more about UTSA Commencement.
Meet other Spring 2017 graduates.
Orientation marks a major step toward becoming a Roadrunner. It is a unique experience designed to welcome freshmen and transfers to UTSA and ensure a successful transition into college. They will learn about UTSA, prepare for their first semester and have fun meeting other students. There is also a special Family Orientation program too.Various locations, Main and Downtown Campuses
Come out and meet Dr. Ray Bateman, ARL South Cyber on-site Lead, and Kristin Schweitzer who form the nucleus of ARL South Cyber on our campus. They will give a brief overview of the Army Research Laboratory (ARL) and how it fits within the Army’s hierarchy. Morning session is 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. Afternoon session is 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.John Peace Library (JPL 4.04.12C), Main Campus
Join the UTSA Master of Social Work Advanced Social Work Methods Policy Practice Advocacy Class for a panel discussion on child care policies and its effect on higher education. Event is free and open to the public. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.Buena Vista Street Building (BVB 1.322), Downtown Campus
UTSA Associate Dean/Associate Professor Francine Romero will sit down with San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg for a wide-ranging conversation about the Mayor's vision for the City's future. Seating is at capacity but the San Antonio Express-News will stream it live.Buena Vista Street Building Theater (BVB 1.326), Downtown Campus
The sympoisum will focus on the interface between aging and neurodegenerative diseases, will educate the wider research community about advancements in this fast-paced field and stimulate collaborative research in this area. Register online for this free event.H-E-B University Center Ballroom (HUC 1.106), Main Campus
The 23rd International Conference on Historical Linguistics is offering four special panels open and free to the San Antonio public July 31-Aug. 3 to mark the tricentennial next year. The event is co-sponsored by UTSA Research.Hotel Contessa, 306 W. Market St., San Antonio
The UTSA community welcomes students to their on-campus home! Laurel Village, Chaparral Village and Alvarez Hall are home for 2,300 students during the academic year, and Move-In event kicks off the start of Roadrunner Days.Laurel Village, Chaparral Village, Alvarez Hall, Main Campus
The College of Engineering hosts this seminar featuring Jeff Adams, Southwest Zone Quality Manager, Siemens Building Technologies Division. The event is free and open to the public.Engineering Building (EB 3.04.30), Main Campus