Faces of UMSI: Fernando Carretero

Fernando Carretero has been interested in computers since he watched his step dad build him one as a fifth grader. When he got into his dream school, University of Michigan, he intended to graduate with a degree in computer science from LSA. But after taking SI 110, he changed his academic plan and is now pursuing his Bachelor of Science in Information at UMSI.

Fernando grew up in Mason, Michigan aware of the many educational options available to him in state. “I had always wanted to come [to University of Michigan]” Fernando said. “I thought it was much more cozy and homey here in Ann Arbor”

Fernando got a head start at University of Michigan when he participated in M-STEM Academies as a rising freshman. Fernando and about one hundred other students lived on campus and took classes that would mirror their first semester over the summer. “I knew one hundred people going into college which definitely helped,” Fernando said.

Fernando puts a lot of pressure on himself as a student, and has done so since he was in high school. “I had always felt a lot of pressure to make my mom proud” Fernando said. Fernando’s mother went to Libre Universidad in Colombia, but Fernando and his sister are the first generation in his family to earn a college education in the United States.

When he was still pursuing Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), Fernando joined SHPE, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. Though Fernando is no longer on the EECS track, he is now on the Executive Board of SHPE, and benefits from an engineering mindset.

Each Friday SHPE hosts “Familia Fridays,” events that provide networking opportunities for SHPE members. SHPE also does a volunteer trip abroad each year. This year, they’re going to Guatemala for the second time since Fernando joined. “We did a five day boot camp where we taught high school students basic principles of electrical engineering and the whole engineering mindset, how to solve problems, and how to make a difference in your community,” Fernando said. “It was really rewarding.”

As an incoming freshman Fernando asked his advisor if there were any computer science classes that were not computation or hard coding focused, and his advisor suggested SI 110. At the time Fernando was struggling with feeling like he was competing with, instead of learning from, his peers. Once Fernando understood what information science was, he realized the field aligned with his goals.

Fernando put a lot of pressure on himself to make A’s and wanted to shift his focus to learning. He decided to apply to UMSI, and he got in. “I’m enjoying school a lot more than I was before,” Fernando said. “I’d say that SI cares a lot about you as a student.” Fernando also serves as an Information mentor for UMSI, helping other students find their paths to UMSI.

Fernando is on the user experience track of the BSI program. “I think one of the things that really resonated with me about UX was the whole process of going from looking at a problem to delivering a solution in the form of some sort of a design.” Fernando said. He is very interested in user research, and feels it builds upon his prior research experience in the astronomy department as a sophomore. “I really like learning the different methodologies that go into coming to a concrete solution,” he said.

In the summer of 2018 Fernando worked as Junior Design Intern for a tech start-up called Polished Pixels in Sydney, Australia. There he was responsible for website development. “I always wanted to go abroad sometime in college and I was like why not hit two birds with one stone,” Fernando said.

Fernando is also interested in fashion, particularly shoes. He aspires to someday merge his abilities in UX with his passion for shoe design.

In the summer of 2019 Fernando will work for Ford doing product design. Fernando discovered the opportunity through SHPE. “It’s hard sometimes to put yourself ahead of your peers and success within minority groups is challenging sometimes, but it's important to see that hidden talent,” Fernando said.