October 7, 2013

Profiles In Student Leadership: Joseph Puente, Student Senate

As Aggies celebrate 50 Years of Inclusion − recognizing the formal admission of women and African-Americans into Texas A&M University − Aggie Joseph Puente, a student senator and executive director of the Hispanic Presidents’ Council, reflects on the university’s diversity efforts, what leadership means in today’s society and his hopes for future Aggies.

Joseph Puente

Joseph Puente

Hispanics are forecast to become the majority in Texas by 2020 and Puente, who was just elected for his second term in the student senate as an off-campus senator, says the university is reaching out to Hispanics, developing programs and initiatives to further their success in education and the working world.

“Texas A&M is aware of the increasing Hispanic population, and has committed to educating and creating leaders for a better tomorrow,” he notes. “That is why I believe more Hispanics are choosing to attend Texas A&M.”

Puente says in today’s diverse society, the definition of a great leader is one who builds relationships in different communities and is understanding of each group’s diverse issues.

“Growing up in San Antonio in predominantly white schools and neighborhoods and then later being involved in the multicultural community, I’ve been able to learn so much from my peers,” he explains. “I’ve furthered my knowledge on many topics such as religion, sexual-orientation, gender and culture. Everything I’ve learned and every relationship I’ve made within these communities have contributed to my leadership skills by helping me to be a more sensitive and inclusive leader.”

Leadership also means learning − both from those around him and those before him, says Puente. “Then it’s your duty to mentor and teach someone younger how to lead and not make the mistakes of the past,” he adds.

inclusionLogo

"50 Years of Inclusion" is a semester-long celebration.

Puente says it’s important for him to represent his Hispanic heritage in a positive way. “Hispanics are often negatively stereotyped based on what the media portrays,” he says, “so for me, it’s taking the idea of being the change I want to see. It’s important to be assertive and pursue leadership positions where your voice is heard and representation is acknowledged.

“This university offers so many opportunities to develop students into leaders, but the Hispanic community and other multicultural groups are often left out due to a lack of community outreach from organizations that host leadership conferences or have a great influence on campus.”

Puente says he hopes to inspire other students to step out of their comfort zones and “branch out to create real change around campus. I would like to see more Hispanic and other minority students in positions such as student body president, yell leader and MSC president.”

In addition to his duties as a student senator, Puente works to unite the Hispanic voice on campus through the Hispanic Presidents’ Council, a sponsored organization in the Department of Multicultural Services.

He also works part-time in the Office of Admissions and says there he’s learned the importance of recruitment in the university’s diversity efforts. “I believe that if we strengthen the presence of the Prospective Student Centers, they can further reach into communities and perhaps more minority students would be encouraged to apply and enroll,” he notes.

psc-sanantonio

Prospective Student Centers, such as this one in Puente's hometown of San Antonio, are vital to increasing minority enrollment, he says.

Puente is set graduate in May 2014 and hopes to work in public relations for a professional sports team and even dreams of working in communications at the White House.

As a first-generation college student, Puente says he appreciates the many sacrifices his parents made to help him succeed. “Both of my parents did not go to college, and with five kids, we struggled many times growing up. But everything I experienced has created the man I am today. Every day is a blessing, and I am thankful for the clothes I’m able to wear and the nice things many others take for granted.”

He concludes that Texas A&M is ideally suited to train the leaders of the future. “Texas A&M is an institution dedicated to serving the greater good and I firmly believe Aggies reflect the six core values. There is so much potential for everyone to become a better person and leader, and Texas A&M provides that foundation for success. As with everything else in life, you get out what you put in.”

#####

Media contact: Lesley Henton, Division of Marketing & Communications; 979-845-5591, lshenton@tamu.edu

Tags: , , , , , ,

7 Comments to Profiles In Student Leadership: Joseph Puente, Student Senate

  1. I love this! I greatly believe that Hispanics have much more potential than what we have shown. It’s just a matter of getting to the right place. Unfortunately, because the majority of us are first-generation college graduates, we don’t have that direction or mentor to lead us into these positions. We need help in this area to be able to produce more Hispanic leaders and work towards changing the negative stereotype placed on us.

  2. Cristina on October 8th, 2013
  3. Congratulations on all your accomplishments. Your Mom must be proud beyond belief, but you also make all the rest of us proud to share your last name.

  4. Jesus M. Maldonado on October 9th, 2013
  5. congrats and keep up the good work!! thanks for making a difference…
    chicano pride!

  6. carlos acosta on October 10th, 2013
  7. Congrats Joseph! I love this profile of you! we are going to share it with all of our True Blue Inclusion Chief Diversity Officers!

  8. Catherine Cornelius Smith on October 10th, 2013
  9. Felicidades, Joseph. You do make a difference at TAMU!

  10. Marco Portales on October 15th, 2013
  11. Felicidades, Joseph! Keep up the great work and remember to harness that same passion once you leave A&M to continue to change the world for the better.

  12. Chris Alvarado on October 17th, 2013
  13. Joseph — you’re a great example of what it means to be an Aggie. Hope my sons to turn out as well!

  14. Kim Miller on October 18th, 2013
Share this story

More…