From Manual Laborer to Fine Arts Major

Alejandro Romero, who applied to WNMU on his lunch break and is now working toward an art degree

© Western New Mexico University

Alejandro Romero was on his lunch break when he applied to WNMU. “Almost all my life I’ve had manual labor jobs. I went to culinary school. I have a CDL. I had a steady job and a pretty good income, but it was wearing me down all around,” he said. “I thought, ‘If I’m going to be worn down like this at something I don’t really like doing, I’d rather be worn down putting my energy and effort into something I do like.’”

Now a junior, Alejandro is well on his way to earning a bachelor’s in expressive arts. “I got to a point where I was able to study something that means more to me than just a paycheck,” he said.

Alejandro considers himself a lifelong artist. “I started with graffiti when I was about 18. One day my mom gave me a 35 mm camera and said, ‘Try this.’ That was 12-15 years ago now,” said the passionate photographer. “I’ve been doing art for a while but not on such a technical level. It was more exploring for myself.”

Alejandro said WNMU instructors support his explorations. “They encourage ideas, reinforce that it’s OK to try and make mistakes. For a student who dropped out of high school, that is awesome.”

While middle and high school wasn’t fun for Alejandro, he said that the “college setting” feels different. “Ideas, theories, subjects are presented to you and — while most, like math and business, have proof of techniques that work — you can challenge it, ask why, create your own questions about things that you’re learning. It’s not just, ‘Here it is. Accept it.’”

While photography remains his focus, Alejandro is getting to know a variety of media and learning the methods behind each. “My dream is to work for sports teams or magazines doing fashion, lifestyle, also documentary type photography traveling the world,” he said.

Alejandro travels to the Silver City campus from his home in Deming twice a week. “It’s a great campus. But it’s also affordable for somebody like me who does have to take out loans and has to pay for classes and lab fees on my own. It’s a solid choice if you’re either inexperienced or a little older and thinking about going for a higher degree,” he said.

This is a WNMU student profile, Stampede: Faces, Stories, Lives. Please get in touch with the names of other interesting Mustangs, and we’ll consider sharing their stories here.

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