“I graduated with my bachelor’s at 33,” says Professor Alvin Fuentes. His journey was not on the ‘common path’ but more on God’s path. “I had more failures than anything in my life. But as the scripture says, God has a plan for you to prosper. And now, when I preach, I don’t preach about anything but the failures and how God got me through them because that’s what people relate too.”
Alvin Fuentes was born in Manhattan. His parents are both Puerto Rican, born and raised, but he was born in New York in the 60s. When Fuentes was seven, he went back to Puerto Rico to finish his schooling until his second year in college. “My Hispanic heritage and background are very important to me. It gives me a sense of who I am.”
College was an experience filled with many setbacks for Fuentes. “I took a lot of different detours through my 20s. I went through a lot of negative things in my life from abuse of alcohol to drugs to bankruptcy, even contemplating suicide.” He recalls that he finally hit rock bottom, and while at that moment, he decided to go back to school (Atlantic Union College). “While I was at AUC, I had great mentors. And when I finished my degree, I started teaching a bilingual program at a public school in Worcester, Massachusetts.” The next year, he got a call to go to Forest Lake elementary to do PE and science. While he was there, he worked on a lot of developing projects. One of the projects that he did was create a ‘marathon’ scholarship for student funds. “I started running marathons, and people would pay me by the mile!”
“The first year, I got about $3,000 and gained a bunch of new sponsors, so I was excited to do it again. Unfortunately, two months before the race, I blew my knee, and I had surgery. I couldn’t run. I was so upset that God didn’t protect me because I was doing something for him.” What Fuentes didn’t know was that God had bigger things in store for his project.
Since he couldn’t run, he decided to let the kids run the miles, little did he know, God jumped in the race as well. “In this next marathon with the kids, instead of $3000, we got $10,000. And two years ago, it was the 25th anniversary, and the race has got over $350,000 in scholarships. God had a plan.”
As Fuentes continued his journey, God gave him a calling to come to WAU, and he enjoys going to work every day. “I think that my ministry at WAU is affective because I use my past experiences a lot. I believe that builds a relationship with my students; they want to see that I’m not perfect, and that gives them hope! God got me out of all that craziness, from contemplating suicide to divorce to bankruptcy to finishing my degree, 12 years later…these students are way ahead of me — So I remind them not to worry.”
Fuentes knows that God will always be with you and is working on your behalf. You just have to trust.