July 22, 2024

The Inspiring Journey of Army Veteran Albert Buentello, First-Generation College Graduate

Since kindergarten, Albert Buentello was rarely seen without a book in his hand, his craving to learn never going unnoticed by his loved ones. Years later, it was his love of reading that paved the way to earn his college degree.

Albert’s journey began in the military, where he faithfully served 23 years.

“In high school, I was eager to serve my nation and dedicated most of my youth in service to the military,” he said. “I joined the United States Army in the summer of 2001. Since then, I have deployed over nine combat tours of duty in the Middle East, South America and Africa.”

During his time in the service, Albert worked for the Department of Defense serving first as an infantryman and later as a water treatment specialist.

“In my first role, I served in many physical security protection events,” he said. “Being on the frontlines, I ensured those under my care were prepared mentally and physically. I taught many soldiers how to protect themselves and showed them how adaptable leadership will get them out of tough situations.”

When starting his second role as a water treatment specialist, Albert was given the opportunity to take his new skills deep in the jungles of South America to provide humanitarian aid in the form of clean and purified water.

“I lived in a tiny town in South America,” he said. “I used a mobile ultraviolet light purification unit to clean 60 gallons of water daily for U.S. soldiers and local nationals. Water was used for potable consumption, cooking preparations and for general hygiene. The expressed thanks from the locals had a tremendous impact on me and was my personal favorite military experience.”

It was during his time overseas, Albert quickly found himself leaning towards the idea of big career change.

“I thoroughly enjoyed private security officer work for State Department Embassy located abroad, but I knew a shift was in order,” he said. “I was in search of more fulfilling career and decided a return to an academic program that would assist my search in narrowing down a future career.”

Ultimately, it was through his love for reading where he came across an article on cybersecurity and he was sold.

He saw that cybersecurity was the next significant evolution for the IT community due to the growing demand for qualified professionals. He decided to commit to this new learning journey and jumped right in.

With a chosen career in mind, Albert learned about CSU during a meet-and-greet for returning veterans.

“There was a promise that I would be taken care of from day one,” he said. “I finally felt that I had found my home and eagerly pushed myself in every lesson and assignment.”

Albert completed his associate degree in cybersecurity in June of 2024. He is currently on the path to finish his bachelor’s degree in information systems and cyber security by the end of the year.

As Albert nears the end of his program of study, he says he has learned to manage expectations among family members and, especially, for myself.

Albert (middle) alongside his co-workers.

“As an adult learner with a large family, a full-time IT engineer career and part-time service to the Texas Army National Guard, pursuing a degree is no easy feat,” he said. “A student will appreciate how simple it is to do the one thing they came to CSU for, learn with no added stress.”

“I wanted to show all four of my children that obstacles are meant for growth. Nothing is impossible. Their mother and I are living proof that with proper focus and discipline you can complete a college degree while working full-time and raising family.”

With his family at the forefront of his motivation throughout his academic journey, Albert stands proud as he is a first-generation graduate.

“Once I enrolled into CSU, it became crystal clear that walking the stage was indeed possible despite working two jobs and raising a large family of my own.”

“Part of this goal was developed from my mother’s own academic journey,” he said. “She never completed her high school studies and paused her learning goal to give my siblings and I an opportunity to excel.”

Albert was able to explore his passion in life because of the sacrifices his mother made for he and his siblings. And now, it is her turn.

“I am very proud to announce that my mother successfully completed all general education credits and was awarded her diploma at the same time I have successfully finished my associate degree in cybersecurity with only five courses remaining for my bachelor’s,” he said. “The future is unknown, but the Buentello tribe’s determination will take us into tomorrow.”

Currently an IT engineer with CDW, Albert’s plans for the years to come are the same as when he sat in his kindergarten classroom—keep learning more.

“I am working on an advanced cyber certification and gearing up for my graduate program,” he said. “I cannot believe after all this time I would be degree complete and in full preparation for a third program. My wife is also in full swing to start her undergraduate program and we are looking forward to the long study sessions that lie ahead.”


Disclaimer: These testimonials may not reflect the experience of all CSU students.
Multiple factors, including prior experience, geography, and degree field, affect career outcomes.
CSU does not guarantee a job, promotion, salary increase, eligibility for a position, or other career growth.


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