Freshman opens up about identity, making new friends in college transition


Veronica Palacios / Hilltop Views

Basil Moreau Hall residents may recognize Fuentes for his piano playing and singing voice. He enjoys playing during afternoons in the BMH lobby to other residents.

Life on campus is typically hectic when considering the factors that come with being the “Perfect College Student” that everyone aims to be. When maintaining our own daily routine, we often neglect to imagine the routine of other students, and what their life looks like. In the effort to highlight students on campus, freshman chemistry major, Gabe Fuentes, opens up on his life back home, life here on the Hilltop and his hopes for the future.

“I didn’t exactly have a certain meaning behind choosing St. Edward’s. It just sort of happened, Fuentes says. “But I think I made a good choice. I went to a very tiny high school. I didn’t hate it, but it wasn’t great.”

Fuentes was born and raised in McAllen, Texas. He shares that although he wouldn’t mind going back to his hometown, but he’s thought about yet.

“I grew up in a very Hispanic area, but my family wasn’t very cultural. The culture cuts off at a certain point, and you just kind of lose out on things,” he says.  “I don’t feel connected to the Hispanic culture, but I don’t know if I wish that I did. But people love it and are proud of it, and that makes me feel like I missed out.”

Fuentes describes his experience on making friends at SEU as simple. “You kind of just make friends wherever you are, but I make friends by people coming up to me,” Fuentes says. “I’m not introverted, but I won’t go up to anyone.”

He compares friendships here to the ones from home. “I don’t think I was ever in a friendship because it was more of them being friends with me and I was just going along with it,” he says. “I don’t mind being friends with everyone though. I’m just distant with a lot of people, but that’s just me putting up barriers. I don’t know why I do that. I guess trust scares me.”

Thus far, Fuentes has enjoyed campus life, but is still trying to figure out his interests and other hobbies. One of Fuentes’s goals is to try and reach out to others more often.“Most people don’t like to talk about the important things; the things on the inside,” he says. “But people are so interesting, and I’d like to go up to them more.”

St. Edward’s open and accepting nature surprised Fuentes at first. He has come to realize that it’s the campus’s diversity that makes its students so welcoming.

“Back home, people stared at me all the time. It frustrated me at the beginning because it was like “What do you want, why are you looking at me?” but now it’s like ‘What did you want to ask? Come talk to me, I don’t mind.’,” he says.

Fuentes is apart of the LGBTQ community and has embraced it more since coming to St. Edward’s.

“Most people just assume that I’m gay anyway, but I think assumptions are helpful sometimes. I’m technically non-binary transgender, but I don’t really mind when it comes to pronouns,” says Fuentes. “Everyone I’ve told has been accepting of me. I’m definitely more carefree than before, and I like it a lot. I used to feel like I wasn’t participating in the world. It affected people around me because they were concerned, but I couldn’t help them help me, because I couldn’t help myself. Coming out was emotionally exhausting.”

Fuentes wants to continue to work on himself and get to know others on campus.