Two-time RGC Grad Blends Science and Art

 RGC graduate Melissa Fuentes displays the complete horse skull her father found on a deer hunting trip in Mexico. The perfectly preserved bones were discovered by her dad after he and his friend got lost while hunting, and he knew he had to take the treasure home to Melissa to add to her collection.

By Laura Nelson

Lubbock, Texas—Melissa Fuentes is no ordinary graduate student.

She started her college career learning all she could about sculpting, drawing, painting-basically everything involving visual art. The Eagle Pass native came close to finishing a fine arts degree, but she chose not to spend time learning to market her creations since she had no intention of selling her work or going into business.

She returned home, went to work as a proctor, and began taking classes at Southwest Texas Junior College that she thought would be interesting. A friend, aware of Melissa’s interest in science, introduced her to Dr. Dan Foley, RGC’s biology professor. After reviewing her transcript, Foley encouraged her to complete an English degree, which she did in the spring of 2015 and then followed that by completing a biology degree in the fall of the same year.

The coursework on the trio of degrees fulfilled Melissa’s goal of learning to communicate in a variety of ways. She decided to further her education and explored her options with Dr. Foley. Given her interests and background, she chose the Museum Science program at Texas Tech University in Lubbock and is completing her first semester. She said, “My undergraduate preparation at RGC has, beyond a shadow of a doubt, helped me succeed and thrive in graduate school. Dr. Foley expected a lot of me once he saw my potential, and he taught me to embrace academia and improve my writing and trained me to catalog and preserve specimens. In fact, the experience I gained at RGC directly helped me obtain a campus job at Tech.”

Ms. Fuentes also credits Dr. Foley with showing her a bigger world and she plans to use that inspiration to spur others to achieve their goals.