Students of Color Recognition Ceremony
Julie Hernandez ‘12 grew up in a very family-oriented atmosphere.
“Even though my parents didn't go to college they always encouraged us to get good grades and do our best. My dad always told us he came to this country (from Mexico) to better himself and help his family.”
Julie’s first visit to the University was to spend a weekend during a College Summit program.
“When I came to Redlands, I fell in love with the campus. I just thought it was perfect.”
A first-generation Hispanic student graduating this week, Julie will be recognized in the University’s Students of Color ceremony and participate in the undergraduate commencement event.
“I’m excited to participate in the Students of Color ceremony and see my family there with me,” Julie said. “This is a diverse campus and I’m proud to be recognized before graduation.” Her brother Luis, who graduated from Cal State Northridge and was a guiding force in her decision to attend the University of Redlands, will attend the recognition ceremony with her and say a few words about his sister.
“Many Latino and Latina students, particularly first-generation students in this group, appreciate the ceremony because their parents can speak on their behalf in Spanish,” said Leela MadhavaRau, associate dean for campus diversity and inclusion. “The ceremony continues the University’s commitment to diversity while recognizing the unique experience students of color have faced in reaching this point.”
Julie initially planned to major in accounting, but ultimately decided to major in history and double minor in Women and Gender Studies and Race and Ethnic Studies. She also found her way into community service organizations on campus— Fidelity Isonomy Erudition and Alpha Xi Omicron sorority. She is most proud, however, of her involvement in the “I’m Going to College” program, an initiative of the Office of Campus Diversity and Inclusion geared to educate first-generation and underrepresented students about higher education. The program works with K-8 students across Southern California.
“We have many volunteers in the program who share their personal experiences, and tell the students about how we didn’t go to great high schools, have the best teachers or the best textbooks, but we got to where we are today,” Julie said. “I felt I was at a lower education level than many of my classmates when I first came to college. It’s a struggle, but you get through it, and Redlands helped me get there.”
“Sometimes we get the little kids. If you’ve ever been out on campus and ever seen flocks of kids running around, many times they’re here because of the “I’m Going to College” program. That’s us bringing them here and showing them the campus and what college is like. We tell them about our experiences and how there’s not just one way of getting to college, but an education is the most important part. As long as we get them to say, ‘yes, I’m going to college’ then we’ve done our job.”
Julie has received nominations from the Peace Corps to work in either Central or South America, and is interested in pursuing a career as a school counselor.
“I kind of wish I had a little more time at Redlands,” she said. “There are a few more things I wish I could do here. But I’m excited to graduate and I can’t believe the four years are over.”