Port Arthur: You can make an impact here

Published 8:00 am Thursday, July 19, 2018


At various turns in his young life, Fred Vernon Jr. has wanted to be a nurse and a welder, an accountant and, finally, an entrepreneur. And he wanted to work in the big city.

Alam Farias’ path toward success was more pointed. In a high school program at Port Arthur Memorial High School, he was encouraged toward drafting and design and finally, more specifically, toward architecture. And he wanted to work in a big city.

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Both men found their journeys led them from Port Arthur to Houston and back home. Their hometown called them; they answered.

Vernon and Farias tell their stories in the current edition of Greater Port Arthur, The Magazine, now available at public places and here at The Port Arthur News.

Vernon, who holds a two-year degree from Lamar State College Port Arthur, a bachelor’s and two master’s degrees from Lamar University, comes from a tight-knit Christian family in Port Arthur. He always wondered what went on in the gleaming skyscrapers that hover over Houston’s landscape. He later worked 32 stories above the city for a leading accounting firm in a dream job. But not his dream job.

Farias attended the University of Houston to study architecture. He loved the design emphasis at UH and wanted to create inspirational buildings. Houston offered an education but the road to opportunity led him back to Port Arthur, his hometown, where he creates plans for buildings from Architect’s Studio in downtown Port Arthur.

The two men took two paths to their own personal happiness. Both embrace their hometown and both relish their success in it. But both readily agree that Port Arthur and its environs lent them the chance to explore interests, test their skills and develop their areas of expertise.

Along the way, they found teachers and mentors and interested people who were willing to help and guide them. They found them at Memorial High and Lamar Port Arthur and Lamar University and beyond.

When Farias, born in Mexico, moved to Port Arthur, he need instruction in the English language at the start of his elementary school education. He got that at Franklin Elementary and thrived in the Port Arthur schools. Vernon, a Port Arthur native, needed some breadth of worldly experience in selecting a career path. He got that from interested friends and fellow church members and even strangers who were willing to advise him on his way.

Both men are prepared and eager to help in the revival of Port Arthur. Their lives and early success provide testimony that this community cares about its own young people, that Greater Port Arthur has welcoming people and an environment that provides personal and professional opportunity.

The road can lead back to Port Arthur — to opportunity.