Alumna Spotlight: Arlette Cuevas-Renteria

Arlette Cuevas-Renteria with daughter, Itzayana

2018 graduate pursuing B.S. in HR Management at Metro State

Arlette Cuevas-Renteria, 37, graduated from Dakota County Technical College in 2018 with her Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Technical Management. Arlette earned her college degree as a nontraditional undergraduate, also known as an adult learner. She completed her A.A.S. while raising three children and working as a bilingual staffing specialist at Doherty Staffing, a woman-owned, workforce solutions agency.

Arlette Cuevas-Renteria

Today, Arlette is pursuing her Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Human Resource Management at Metropolitan State University. She is also working full-time as a human resources specialist at the Minnesota Department of Revenue. She loves her job and enjoys working directly with people from all areas of the department, which manages more than 30 different taxes and collects more than $25.2 billion annually.

“The favorite part of my job with MNDOR has always been interacting with our employees,” Arlette said. “From onboarding to promotions, and even the investigations—being able to conversate and share in those experiences is very rewarding and never dull.”

Arlette’s long-range career plans are centered on advancing in the human resources field. “I would like to be an HR director with my current employer,” she said, “or I would like to work in HR with a multinational company like 3M or Ecolab, helping set up new facilities/branches and onboarding employees.”

Making a difference: DCTC Alumni Advisory Board

Arlette recently joined the college’s Alumni Advisory Board. Along with board members, Amy Eppen, DCTC Foundation development director, was impressed by her answers regarding how the college changed her life for the better.

“Arlette’s personal experiences as a mother of three and nontraditional student will make her an excellent ambassador for the college,” Amy said.

As a new board member, Arlette is motivated by the chance to use her life knowledge to help students achieve academic and career success. Her advice to students is direct: “Seize the day and go for it.”

Arlette at a glance…
  1. I wanted to serve on the DCTC Alumni Advisory Board because…
    I wanted to give back to the school that gave me so much and empowered me to grow.
  2. When I was a kid, I wanted to be an…
    Archaeologist—history is my favorite subject, and Egypt was full of wonders at one point.
  3. My absolute favorite thing to do is…
    Cuddle up with my daughter, Itzayana; she still likes it, and I know these moments are fleeting.

More about nontraditional undergraduates…

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) is located within the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and Institute of Education Sciences (IES). NCES defines a nontraditional undergraduate as an individual who satisfies one of the following criteria:

  • Delays enrollment (does not enter postsecondary education in the same calendar year that he or she finished high school)
  • Attends part-time for at least part of the academic year
  • Works full-time (35 hours or more per week) while enrolled
  • Is considered financially independent for purposes of determining eligibility for financial aid
  • Has dependents other than a spouse (usually children, but may also be caregivers of sick or elderly family members)
  • Does not have a high school diploma (completed high school with a GED or other high school completion certificate or did not finish high school)

Remember: No matter where you are in life, you are college material.

Dakota County Technical College recognizes that the idea of going back to college can seem overwhelming. That’s why we are here to help you succeed. Adult learners have a wealth of knowledge and life experiences greatly valued at our college.

DCTC offers great support for adult learners, including:

Learn more about nontraditional student opportunities at DCTC by visiting:


Find out how your knowledge and experience can translate into college credit by taking our Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) survey:


More about Arlette…

Originally from Pasadena, California, Arlette moved to Minnesota in 1998 at the age 15. Her aunt had let her mom know about the large number of good-paying jobs in Minnesota, and she helped Arlette’s family move to the state.

Arlette Cuevas-Renteria

Four years later, Arlette graduated from Highland Park High School in the Class of 2002. She enrolled at DCTC in 2016 and, along with her A.A.S. degree, she earned a Supervisory Leadership certificate. Arlette recently completed two other certifications, Human Resources: Understanding HR Systems Features and Benefits and Unconscious Bias.

Arlette is fluent in Spanish and English and believes her bilingual proficiency is definitely an advantage on job.

“For example, when I was making the switch from the nonprofit world to HR, I started at Doherty Staffing as a temp,” she said. “What gave me the leg up was the fact that I could speak Spanish and was a part of a demographic community highly sought after in the temp staffing industry. Our workforce is very diverse and bilingual soft skills are essential in today’s workplace.”

Arlette added that because she is bilingual she was given the opportunity to join Doherty permanently and learn about HR through on-the-job training. That training allowed her to become more familiar with Minnesota’s labor laws while giving her the work history she needed to meet the minimum requirements for the position she was seeking with the state.

“Speaking both Spanish and English often comes in handy—even though I don’t deal directly with taxpayers,” she said. “Until recently, we did not have a Spanish speaker in our lobby, and I was called on to help interpret for a colleague. This skill also benefits Minnesota taxpayers because every year I volunteer as a tax preparer during the tax season at sites where the need for Spanish speakers is high.”

Jingi and Prada

Arlette has three children, two boys, Eleazar, 18, and Felipe, 16, and one girl, Itzayana, 6. “We also have two furry buddies named Jingi and Prada,” Arlette said. “They are adorable and about seven months old.”

In her free time, Arlette enjoys reading books, running and hiking. “I recently began kayaking and tried paddleboarding over the summer—that was fun,” she said. “I’m going to try running through the winter; it will be my first time, so we’ll see how that goes. Other than that, I hang out with my friends and do family things with the kiddos.”

Arlette resides with her family in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Arlette Cuevas-Renteria gallery

Arlette Cuevas-Renteria Q & A

Why did you choose human resources as your career path?

Believe it or not, that was not chosen; HR is sort of where my path has led me so far. When I was younger, I wanted to be an archaeologist. History is one of my favorite subjects, and when I was young, Egypt held such wonder and just a plethora of history and ancient beauty and traditions. But like I said, I enjoy working with people and administrative procedures, so this seems like the right place for me right now.

How did the Technical Management program prepare your for the HR field?

The journey to the Technical Management degree prepared me for what was to come. My advisors, Scott [Gunderson] and Harold [Torrence], along with the instruction they provided, helped me be more open and tolerant when working with people who have different work ethics and worldviews. I learned about myself a lot and was able to change some of my behaviors while becoming more confident in my abilities.

What are the most important skills HR professionals need to develop?

Communication would be number one. We work with people, and we need to have clear communication about expectations, procedures and what our goals as an agency are.

A close second is objectivity. I would even go as far as to say that objectivity is a skill that will be required and used the most. You have to remember that your employees are human and will say or do things that, if you’re not careful, may cause you to end up treating them differently. You can’t let that get to you.

Thirdly, I’d say discretion. Because of the role we play, we are privy to confidential or private information we need to safeguard no matter how juicy the gossip is sometimes.

Three words that describe you as an HR professional:

How did your DCTC experience change your life for the better?

DCTC was the first step on my journey—and as we all know, the first step is always the hardest. My education at DCTC helped me get started on the path to my bachelor’s degree. This will be a great accomplishment seeing as I would be the first one in our family to get a bachelor’s degree.

Because of my time at DCTC, I gained the confidence to make the switch to HR, which led me to my current position.

What advice would you give nontraditional students trying to balance college, work and raising a family?

Remember that you have enough time, but you do need to manage it well and have the discipline to stick to your schedule. Secondly, as hard as it seems, there is time for some self-TLC, whether it’s some retail therapy or a quick run. Allow yourself your time. You can’t take care of others, or do homework if you are not mentally and physically okay.

Arlette’s favorite quote:

“I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion.”

— Alexander the Great
What is the greatest challenge facing your generation?

I’d say finances; we don’t have enough money to live the American dream. We are overworked and underpaid. Not to mention as women, we often earn less than our male counterparts, which needs to change.

Where do you see yourself in 20 years?

I’m not sure—I would like to be working somewhere abroad with a multinational company. But part of me would also like to get my little, self-sustaining homestead going, and that takes time and requires me to sit still. Ask me in 10 years.

More about Technical Management at DCTC…

The Technical Management program gives you the knowledge, skills and abilities to succeed in business-related leadership positions while enhancing your career mobility. The program is highly individualized based on your interests and previous experience as identified by your completion of the Credit for Prior Learning assessment process.

You can pursue your specific technical field area of expertise by taking classes from the required Business Management course list.  You can further explore and incorporate more than one DCTC program as part of your A.A.S. degree.


Due to the demands and commitments of life, you may need to get a quality education and want to earn a degree as quickly as possible. With Dakota County Technical College’s FastTrack options, you can earn full-time credit by going to school part-time while still finishing your degree within two years.

Technical Management has been identified as one of the college’s most flexible programs in terms of a learner’s various needs. FastTrack programs use an accelerated schedule, which may not work for everyone. The accelerated track can be intensely rigorous. Talking with a DCTC academic advisor about which track is right for you is an important first step to assure your academic success.

Scott Gunderson: Faculty perspective…

Scott R. Gunderson, MPNA, CM, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, is the senior faculty member of the Business department. Scott also serves as the college’s Phi Theta Kappa faculty advisor. He began teaching at DCTC in July 2000.

Scott Gunderson, MPNA, CM, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Scott has a master’s degree in public and nonprofit administration from Metropolitan State University. He also has a B.S. in Management from LaSalle University and an A.A.S. in Business Management from Gateway Technical College.

“Arlette Cuevas-Renteria designed her Technical Management A.A.S. degree to include the Multicultural Human Resources Management diploma,” Scott said. “Arlette set her sights on a job in human resources; shortly after graduation, she landed a HR specialist position that is utilizing her bilingual talent as well as her ability to relate to people.”

Scott added that the Technical Management A.A.S. degree provides adult learners with the ability to utilize their prior life experience/learning in business, allowing them to design their own degree plan to best meet their career path.

Harold Torrence: Faculty perspective…

Harold Torrence, EdD, is a Business Management instructor. His areas of focus are the Business Administration A.S., the Business Management A.A.S., the Multicultural Leadership diploma, Multicultural Supervision certificate and the Occupational Spanish program.

Harold Torrence, EdD

Harold holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from UNITEC, or Universidad Tecnológica del Centro. He also holds both a Masters of Arts in Management and a Master in Public Administration from Hamline University. In 2012, he earned a Doctorate in Education from Hamline University.

“I first met Arlette Cuevas-Renteria at CLUES (Comunidades Latinas Unidas en Servicio) in St. Paul, Minnesota, several years ago,” Harold said. “I was surprised when I first saw her at one of our campus visits at DCTC, where she decided to continue her education.

“Arlette was looking forward to embracing her opportunities to move up the career ladder in the field of human resources and multicultural leadership. She quickly became a leader to our learning communities in the classroom by sharing her perspectives and contributing with a higher sense of professionalism and dedication to her career development.

“She was successful at balancing her role as a mother and student. Arlette is an example of perseverance and commitment, and she was always willing to go above and beyond expectations.

“I am proud of you, Arlette!”

Human Resources Managers

Oversee the hiring, firing, and staffing activities of an organization.


This is a very high-wage career that pays well above the statewide median wage of $21.49/hour


Median: $55.75/hour
High: $74.15/hour

Seven-county Twin Cities metro

Median: $58.04/hour
High: $76.92/hour


In Minnesota, there are 4,560 workers employed in this medium-sized career. This career is currently in high demand and seeing high growth compared to other careers. Growth rate in Minnesota is 5.9 percent.

There will be a need for about 4,192 new Human Resources Managers to meet market demand between 2018–2028. This includes the demand due to replacement (workers leaving the occupation or retiring) as well as growth.

Minnesota State CAREERwise Education

Arlette Cuevas-Renteria 12 Answers

  1. Favorite sport or physical activity: Hiking, running
  2. Place you would most like to visit: Santorini, Greece
  3. The most exciting thing you’ve ever done: Skydiving
  4. Three things you would do if you won a $1 billion lottery: 1) Pay off my debt 2) Donate to some of my causes 3) Give some money to my family members
  5. Favorite TV show you’re watching now: The X-Files streaming on Hulu
  6. Best movie you’ve seen lately: Enola Holmes
  7. One thing you most want to accomplish in life: Having my own homestead with some livestock
  8. Your national bird if you were your own country: Golden eagle
  9. Dream occupation: None—to live off my land and enjoy life
  10. Person you would most like to meet: Alive: AOC | Dead: Mata Hari
  11. Skill you would most like to learn and master: How to grow and keep my own veggie garden
  12. Most important issue or problem facing humankind: Global warming: the human race is destroying our planet and Mother Earth needs our help.
Learn more about Technical Management at DCTC by contacting:

Scott Gunderson, MPNA, CM, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
Business Management Faculty

Harold Torrence, EdD
Business Management Faculty

Erin Lund
Academic & Financial Aid Advisor

Learn more about adult learner opportunities at DCTC by contacting:

Kendrah Pearson
Director of Prior Learning Assessment

Learn more about the Alumni Advisory Board by contacting:

Amy Eppen
Foundation Development Director