A Laredo ISD student is following in the footsteps of several illustrious United States Military Academy at West Point graduates such as U.S Presidents Ulysses S Grant and Dwight D. Eisenhower, General George S. Patton, and astronaut Buzz Aldrin. Aaron Fuentes, who is graduating from the Hector J. Garcia Early College High School in May, will be attending West Point Academy beginning in July.  Fuentes was nominated and accepted for this honor by U.S. Congressman Henry Cuellar. He is the first GECHS student accepted to the prestigious academy.

Fuentes has been considering a military education since he was a little boy but West Point didn’t come into play until late in his application process.

“The military career path was always an option for me. My father and uncle were both Marines, so the military aspect has always been shown to me. So that is what sparked my interest,” said Fuentes. “With West Point specifically it came up late in the conversation. One day my father’s co-worker, Texas Ranger Joe Sanchez, proposed the idea of me joining West Point so I can get in the military. So that is when I started my application.”

 The application and acceptance process to West Point was long and well worth it according to Fuentes.

 “So, the first process was starting my application on common app by submitting an essay about the neuromuscular junction,” said Fuentes. “With the physical test I've always been very physically fit so, the only thing I needed to polish up on was my pull-ups and my pushups. Then I was ready for the physical test and I did pretty good.”

The West point application also requires a nomination from a senator or state representative. Fuentes submitted transcripts, essays and interviewed with Congressman Cuellar.

Congressman Cuellar made the official announcement at a press conference where he praised Fuentes for his acceptance to West Point.

“It was my sincere honor to nominate Aaron Fuentes to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Aaron is an exemplary student and truly deserves this honor,” said Congressman Cuellar. “

 Aaron got official notification from Congressman Cuellar’s office that he was accepted into West Point.

“When I got the news, it was a good day. I felt super good. Going to West Point is going to be a rough test. It’s going to be hard over there but I’m ready for it. I’m super excited,” said Fuentes. “My mom started crying because she was happy and my dad was also happy. I know my mom is feeling it the most right now because I'm the youngest.”

Aaron credits GECHS for his rigorous education and being a karate instructor for his leadership qualities that immensely contributed to his acceptance to the military academy.

First Lieutenant Richard Hansen of West Point has been working Aaron’s file since the fall when he began his application process and has been very impressed.

“Aaron is one of the best candidates I have worked with,” said Lt. Hansen. “Aaron is a solid candidate and is extremely competitive. He crushed the application process and was able to earn an offer to West Point, so we are here to celebrate Aaron. It a really big deal.”

As Aaron embarks on this new chapter at West Point his parents, Pedro M. Fuentes and Anna Diaz-Fuentes, stand beside him with unwavering support, love, and boundless pride.

“In the heart of our family, there beats a sense of immense pride as we witness our son, Aaron, embark on his journey to the United States Military Academy at West Point. His decision to attend this esteemed institution stands as a testament to his unwavering dedication to morals, faith, values, and a relentless pursuit of academic and athletic excellence,” said Pedro Fuentes. “We extend our deepest gratitude to the Laredo Independent School District and Hector J. Garcia Early College High School for providing Aaron with the opportunities for an outstanding education. Their commitment to excellence has played an instrumental role in shaping Aaron into the remarkable young man he is today.”

Aaron’s credits his role models who are his brother and father for being the biggest influence in his life.

“My brother is my biggest role model because he's the one who got me into the idea of martial arts which was what I did all throughout my childhood. He also got me into the idea of coming to Garcia Early College High School. He guided me on how to leave my friends behind to pursue a great education,” said Fuentes. “My father has always pushed me to do the right thing. He gives me my free space, but as long as they were the right choices. The way he's guided me and pushed me throughout my whole life it's really shaped me to who I am.”

Aaron will be using his karate knowledge at West Point to become a future leader so he can be able to influence other people's lives.

“Growing up I was a karate instructor so being able to see how I was able to change the little kids lives. It was pretty cool and I got to put some values into them,” said Fuentes. “I want to continue to be able to do that going forward while pushing myself physically because. With the service academy it's education and physical fitness.”

Fuentes would like to acknowledge all his supporters who stood by him throughout this entire process.

“First, I want to thank my parents and my brother for always being by my side and instilling dedication and discipline. All of my teachers who helped me with the school evaluations Ms. Villanueva, Ms. Madriaga, Ms. Losoya, Mr. Guerrero. my counselor Ms. Alaniz, and principal Ms. Taboada, and my college coach Ms. Longoria as well for helping with the physical part,” said Fuentes. “I also want to give a huge thanks to Bears Karate and to Congressman Henry Cuellar of course because without his nomination none of this would not be possible.”

“At Garcia Early College High School, we are immensely proud of Aaron Fuentes. His acceptance to The United States Military Academy at West Point is a testament to his commitment to excellence. By embracing the rigorous curriculum and dual-enrollment opportunities offered at Laredo Independent School District and Garcia Early College, Aaron has exemplified the values of hard work and perseverance,” said GECHS Principal Maggie Taboada. “As Principal, it is truly gratifying to see our students reach such remarkable milestones. Aaron serves as an inspiration to us all, showcasing the potential within each student. We applaud his achievements and offer our heartfelt best wishes as he embarks on a new chapter.”

He is a member of the National Honor Society and part of the Dual Enrollment Program, Advanced Placement Program, and Gifted and Talented Program. Aaron also volunteers as an alter server at San Martin De Porres Church. He owns his own power washing business and interned with the Webb County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Aaron enjoys martial arts, kickboxing, boxing and is an avid runner where he recently competed in an ultra-marathon. He is also an instructor and black belt in Karate and has competed in the World Karate Commission Competition, National Karate Team tryouts, and the World Karate Commission World Championships. His prior training in karate and boxing helped him prepare for his West Point physical.

After graduation Aaron will be a second Lieutenant in the Army and will serve five years. Upon completing his service, he has high aspirations for himself.

“I'm interested in nuclear engineering and the medical field. I'm stuck between around four options in the medical field a rheumatologist, cardio-thoracic surgeon, plastic surgeon and an orthopedic surgeon. So, I'm not sure between those two which one I want to do,” said Fuentes. “I hope to lead other people and to eventually become a doctor. Hopefully I will become a doctor in the military and get to lead other people while doing it.”

“We have full confidence that Aaron will continue to uphold the values of honor, duty, and service instilled in him and emerge as a leader of character, integrity, and distinction,” said Ms. Fuentes. 

According to Lt. Hansen West Point is now traveling the country to underserved communities to find the best of the best and let them know of the opportunities for them and to pursue them if possible. 

“Our goal in Laredo is to create a pipeline here of highly qualified cadet candidates who want to be the best they can be,” said Lieutenant Hansen. “In the future Aaron will have the opportunity, while he is at West Point, to come back to Laredo to inspire excellence for all kids in Laredo.”

Aaron advises his peers to always challenge yourself. “Never get too comfortable where you are,” said Fuentes. “Always set goals for yourself and accomplish them one step at a time.”