As part of highlighting Human Capital & Education as one of our Center’s key focus areas we talked to Alfredo Duarte, a member of our Executive Advisory Board and CEO of Taxco Produce, about why education is important to him and essential to the Texas-Mexico relationship.
Texas-Mexico Center (TM): Why did you decide to join the leadership of the Mission Foods Texas-Mexico Center?
Alfredo Duarte (AD): First of all, I really believe in what the Center is doing. We can use the Center’s research to create a better relationship between Texas and Mexico—and to educate both sides. I really believe in that. I’m big on education, and I’m big on making a difference. I hope I can bring some of my experience of doing business for 35 years back and forth between Mexico and my company to the Center’s leadership.
TM: Why should Human Capital & Education be a focus of our Center’s work?
AD: Human capital is the biggest investment that any country or any community or even home can make. The more informed and the more educated people are, the better citizens they become, which is good for the country, good for our community, good for our people. We change communities through education. You have to invest in people.
TM: You’re involved in several education initiatives. Why is education so important for the Texas-Mexico relationship?
AD: The relationship gets better when you understand culture and people– that’s how we can reach our potential to become better. Education is one of those things, you can go and become a doctor and become very educated, and you might not make any money, but it will change your frame of mind– how you are thinking, how you see things. And it will teach you to make better decisions.
TM: School finance is a top priority for our 86th Texas legislature. What do you hope Texas is able to accomplish?
AD: That is a very complex question but a critical issue for us to address as a state and for our community. The legislature has to find a middle ground between varying positions from supporting public schools, to offering school choice to teacher pay, etc. It seems to me that in order to tackle all the various aspects of school finance reform, they will have to restructure the system and allocate more dollars to the overall budget for schools. Of course, with the proper oversight of how these additional dollars will be spent in order to better serve all our kids.
My hope is that the legislature will begin to work on something that is good for both public education funding and school choice. Either way they’re going to have allocate more money towards our children’s education because there are a lot of communities that need help. These communities really need better public schools and more choices, especially in urban school districts. We will see. It’s going to be a very interesting session.
TM: What advice do you have for young people in both Texas and in Mexico who are looking to build careers? What skills do you think are important to be successful?
AD: You can define success in a lot of ways. Education is a good way, and perseverance is as well. Pick yourself up, stay on course and look forward to whatever you want to do in your life.
One thing that the millennial generation and their kids need is patience. Having patience in business and while creating companies is important. We have to work– we have to get up early in the morning, go to work and finish late. It takes a lot of time and perseverance. You have to be willing to do that, and to dream big. Even then, a lot of personal formation comes from a stable home and family, and education.
Finally, whatever you want to do in life—don’t get discouraged, don’t be afraid of failure. Failure is just another great gain in your life that will help you tackle whatever is in front of you.