Lending a Hand
Fernando Arroyo believes in helping all who need it
By Justin Walker
When you grow up seeing the impact of good works, it is hard not to want to continue that tradition. At least that is the case for Fernando Arroyo.
Arroyo grew up in a community full of helping hands, including those of his own mother. He moved to South Waco from Campeche, Mexico, at the age of 4 with his mom and younger brother. His aunt had lived here for a while, so it seemed like a good place to start a new life.
“I enjoyed watching my mom help so many of my relatives as well as some folks in the neighborhood,” Arroyo said. “She always fed and helped clothe people—including some of my friends. She would open her door to anyone in need, and that inspired me.”
As a would-be first-generation college student, Arroyo originally did not plan to pursue higher education, but a connection with Richard Coronado, then dean of Education at McClennan Community College (MCC) in Waco, changed that. Coronado encouraged Arroyo to attend college, and with a scholarship through the League of United Latin American Citizens, Arroyo enrolled at MCC.
Two years later, Arroyo transferred to Baylor to study biology. He worked his way through his education, fluctuating between full- and part-time status before graduating in 2000 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology.
Fernando Arroyo, MBA/MSW ’19
Chief of Staff, Waco Family Medicine Waco, Texas
While attending Baylor, Arroyo began working with Mission Waco as the director of Youth Programs. There, he designed and managed enrichment and wellness programs for high-risk youth and young adults.
“I got to meet some students from the North Waco neighborhood who made a big impact in my life,” he said. “They taught me that I had a lot more to learn from them—folks who were not necessarily people of societal status but still had a lot of insight into human connection and serving one another.”
One of the curricula Arroyo worked with involved training a group of teenagers on computer programs. After seeing how quickly they took up website building, he developed a business plan.
“We would build websites and menus for local restaurants and the kids would pocket half the money we would make from the gig,” Arroyo said. “The other half would go into a scholarship fund that—when they graduated—they could pull out from and use for school.”
Arroyo left Mission Waco in 2003, and his career shifted through education and service-based jobs, including teaching, education administration and consulting. The common theme throughout his professional journey was his desire to impact others through his work.
In 2008, he founded Arroyo Consulting and Education Services, which provided bilingual technology consulting for small- to medium-sized businesses. Over the next decade, he helped businesses and corporations with selection, implementation and support in their technological needs.
“I started to think, ‘You know, I could grow this—I can expand this,'” he said. “That is what got me interested in the MBA.”
Arroyo enrolled in Baylor’s MBA program in 2017, where he had a specific interest in social impact investment. He appreciated the overwhelming support from the program’s administrators and the quality of education he received. By earning his MBA, Arroyo was able to fill in the business gaps that he lacked before.
After graduating, Arroyo began working as the chief of staff at Waco Family Medicine. Just two months into his position, COVID-19 hit, and Arroyo recognized a need within the community.
“We were seeing on the horizon that the pandemic was especially impacting people of color,” Arroyo said. “There were a number of factors that were creating that impact, including an historical perception and accessibility to health care systems.”
Arroyo noticed a lack of informational resources available for these communities, in some instances due to language barriers. Partnering with city and county health officials, Arroyo helped translate information on COVID-19 best practices and vaccines for Spanish-speaking and reading populations. Their work has seen a vaccination rate of almost 50 percent within the Waco community, which surpasses numbers in other similar-sized cities.
Arroyo credits God’s love for his desire to help others. He is inspired by human thriving, and that motivates him both professionally and personally. Arroyo wants to be the hand up—not handout—that makes a positive difference in society.
“God is an embodiment of what is right in the world,” Arroyo said. “If I can be a small part of sharing His love, goodness, compassion and kindness, then that is my work to do.”