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Dean's Award

DEAN'S AWARD WINNER 2017

Photo of Ivan Hernandez

Ivan Hernandez

Today, I am a first-generation Latino college student and proudly come from a family of Mexican immigrants who have worked inconceivably hard in this country. I was born in 1994, in Santa Ana, California to my mother, Estela Hernandez, and my father, Alfonso Hernandez, who have been amazing role models and the primary source of my motivation. From a young age, they taught me that I had to work hard if I wanted to succeed and instilled in me the value of helping others. More importantly, they showed me and led by example. Naturally, I joined the workforce at a young age and volunteering with the youth in my community became very important to me early in life. My mother encouraged me to focus on my education and I was very fortunate to have had teachers throughout my K-12 education that saw potential in me and encouraged me to apply to college.

As I began my college education, I continued working and pursuing my passion to help youth in my community. At age eighteen, I cofounded a not-for-profit organization, Project Kickabout, striving to inspire unity, peace, and sportsmanship in the youth. Although this organization began small, sponsoring soccer tournaments and marathons for local communities, we were eventually able to reach children internationally. We donated soccer equipment to orphanages in Mexico and raised sufficient funds to feed 250 children in Haiti after sponsoring a week-long soccer tournament in this country. I saw my work in this organization as an opportunity to inspire youth to engage in productive activities and motivate them to stay away from drugs, gangs, and criminal activity that often plague low-SES neighborhoods.

Though I was proud of these experiences, I wanted to be an academic role model, particularly to individuals, like myself, from underrepresented minority groups. Since, I have served as President of the CSUSM chapter of Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology and have been involved in mentoring students at the high-school level. I also hope to be a role model to my four siblings, Elisa, Karla, Alfonso Jr., and Nohemi. My parents have sacrificed so much and have devoted their lives to making sure my siblings and I can succeed, and my goal is to continue to pave the way for immigrants like my family, and minorities like myself, who can truly make a difference in this world. I have learned first-hand that we don’t have to passively view how members of our social groups experience inequality, but rather we can be agents of positive change. I am very thankful for every person that invested their time and resources in me, this wonderful institution that is CSUSM, my mentors, and my peers.