Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2017 commencement. See more graduates here.
Matthew Hernandez faced some challenges before heading to college, but he didn’t let it hinder his progress. He chose to attend Arizona State University because it was the best fit for his needs.
“There are so many experiences that we, as college students, go through that seem challenging,” he said, “but after every drawback we are propelled forward. My college experience is best described as a time of personal, professional and intellectual growth.”
Hernandez is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in family and human development. He began his college career as a nursing major before deciding to pursue his main interest in human development.
Planning to attend law school, Hernandez thinks the switch was the right decision for his future. He also decided to pursue a human rights certificate after witnessing the immigration crisis firsthand in Europe. He plans on studying international law or human rights law after completing his undergraduate degree.
Hernandez answered questions about his future as well as his time spent at ASU.
Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study family and human development?
Answer: It wasn’t necessarily an “aha” moment. It was more so that I wanted to pursue my interests. [But] another thing that led me to adding on my human rights certificate — because I didn’t do that until I came back from studying abroad — was witnessing the influx of immigrants going into different countries.
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in college?
A: Pursue your interests. There’s not many times you’ll be able to do things here; I feel like we’d regret it later. So, if you’re like, “Oh, I should have studied that in college rather than do this” — I think the one lesson I’ve learned here primarily is that you can relate anything you study to any career, any experience you’ll have later in life.
Q: What was an important event or experience you had in college?
A: Particularly, I had this one experience in Spain where my friends and I went to the capitol and you could see a bunch of immigrants camping outside in a stadium that’s full of them already and there [was] a banner welcoming them. And I thought that was so profound because here it’s kind of foreign to acknowledge an open-door policy.
Q: What skills have you learned in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences that will help you conquer challenges in life?
A: I feel that my coursework fostered a sense of fearlessness. I should not be afraid to ask questions, seek help, offer critique, substantiate my claims and engage in discourse. This newfound sense of fearlessness has definitely amplified my critical thinking skills.
Q: What do you plan on doing after you graduate?
A: I plan on either attending Georgetown University or the University of Washington studying international law or human rights law. It would be under the human rights umbrella, focusing on indigenous rights, women’s rights [or] immigration rights.
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