Susana Hernandez knows the challenges immigrants face and has become an advocate for the bilingual community.
This first-generation student is from Monterrey, Mexico and migrated to the United States with her family when she was 9-years-old. When Susana arrived in San Antonio, she said she would pass UTSA, hoping she could go there one day.
“You feel very limited when you’re an immigrant and that you can’t have the same opportunities others have,” said Hernandez.
That dream became a reality. Hernandez said because of the Dream Act she enrolled at UTSA in 2015. Nearly 16 years after arriving in the United States, Hernandez is getting an education degree and a certificate in bilingual education.
“I didn’t know anything about college or the financial aid process, and neither did my parents, but I figured it out with support from UTSA Bicultural and Bilingual Studies faculty and Café College,” said Hernandez.
Times were tough, Hernandez and her parents didn’t have a car and she worked multiple jobs while attending classes.
“Most days I would get about three hours of sleep and then would wake up and repeat school and work all over again, but it was all worth it,” said Hernandez.
Fall semester, Hernandez did her clinical teaching in a dual-language kindergarten classroom. She also tutors third graders. In addition, Hernandez was an active member of student organization called Bilingual Education Student Organization at UTSA.
“While thinking back at the challenges I had to overcome, it’s been a difficult process to reach this point,” said Hernandez. “Migrating here was tough. I couldn’t see my grandparents or family for 15 years. My family and I felt very lonely and isolated.”
She said she became assimilated into the American culture after moving to the U.S. but UTSA helped her celebrate who she is and now she shares that pride with her students, who might be able to relate because they come from similar backgrounds.
“UTSA really made me feel proud of my roots and who I am because diversity is celebrated here. I am proud to speak and read Spanish,” said Hernandez.
Susana says she’s wanted to be an educator since she was little and graduating this December is a dream come true.
Coming from a family of immigrants, Fabian Aguirre was told to always take advantage of the opportunities available to him.
“I’m the first person, on my mother’s side of the family, to be born in the United States. My Mom knew there would be more prospects in America and didn’t want me and my brother to struggle like she and her family did in Mexico,” said Aguirre, a native of McAllen, Texas.
After graduating South Texas High School for Health Professions in Mercedes, Texas, Fabian wanted to give back to his country and joined the United States Air Force. He was trained as an Intelligence Analyst and deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom/Resolute Support. For six months, Aguirre was deployed with the 772nd Expeditionary Airlift Squadron and helped with the delivery of supplies throughout Afghanistan, aero-medical evacuations of wounded soldiers, and threat-mitigation for joint operations within the country
While serving 4 years in the Air Force, Aguirre visited several countries like England, Germany, Bulgaria, and Thailand, to name a few. These experiences opened Aguirre’s eyes to the world and he became interested in global affairs.
“I traveled so much in my military years and learned and heard different people’s stories, so I wanted my degree to tie-in to that,” said Aguirre.
Aguirre started his academic journey at San Antonio College and received two associate’s degrees before transferring to UTSA in the Fall of 2017 to study global affairs in the Department of Political Science and Geography.
While preparing to graduate with a bachelor’s degree, Fabian worked for Campus Services. He was also a participant of Model United Nations here at UTSA and an active member of a campus ministry group called Taproot Student Ministry. After graduation, Fabian hopes to have a job that combines his educational background and military training and to use his knowledge to benefit the citizens of America and the world