Diana Hernandez is a senior at Berea College pursing a major in biology. Influenced by a high school teacher’s enthusiasm for science, that passion became Diana’s own. Berea’s Free Tuition Promise called to Diana, as she remembers her parents saying, “If we have to eat beans every day, that’s what we’ll do as long as you go to college.” Diana also chose Berea College because she was impressed by the school’s diverse student population— specifically the Latinx demographic, given that she grew up in a rural part of Kentucky. Reflecting upon her experience as a student, Diana says that Berea College has surpassed her expectations. The rigorous academics have truly challenged her, and she has enjoyed classes within and outside of her major. She spoke about the community she has found at Berea College and how easy it has been to establish new friendships. Additionally, Diana emphasizes her gratitude for having discovered such a dependable support system. As a transfer student, she was surprised to find said support system and meet cooperative, attentive, and honest professors. Diana says, “I think that is very important. I don’t think you get that in every place.”
Aside from academics, the labor program and extracurricular activities have also impacted Diana’s Berea College experience. During her time at Berea College, Diana has worked in a few different places, including the Hutchins’ Library, and in the science department where she currently works as a Chemistry Teaching Assistant (TA). She feels that her labor positions have taught her skills and information that build her professional life. For example, in the library, Diana has gained valuable insights and advice from people in different workforce sectors. Diana has also learned plenty from being a chemistry TA; she has learned to explain challenging materials from different perspectives to better support her peers. Diana says, “[Chemistry] allows me to have that [teaching] foundation, and I think by teaching it, I’m going to take it with me all the time.” As for extracurriculars, Diana currently leads the Bible study group on campus known as Conéctate, and she holds the secretary position for Berea College’s Pre-Health Club. In Conéctate, Diana meets with other Spanish-speakers who enjoy studying Christianity together. In the Pre-Health Club, Diana hopes to connect with health professionals, fundraise money for programs in need, and help realize events for the student body.
The most helpful resource at Berea College for Diana has been the Internships and Career Development Office. Diana feels that the office provides many events that help ensure students are well prepared for when they graduate, like providing abundant career-planning resources and internship funding. Diana spent her summer interning in Richmond through the Shepard Program at a nonprofit healthcare clinic, where she created connections, shadowed work, and received experience. Diana helped with the clinic’s programs and events, such as harm reduction programs and COVID-19 vaccination events. Additionally, she helped interpret plenty for the healthcare clinic as many of the patients are Hispanic. In fact, that is why Diana believes that representation is so vital— she wants to help bridge language barriers in healthcare because she believes that patients deserve the dignity to speak to someone who they can understand and who can understand them.
Diana’s number one piece of advice to new students is: get sleep! She also advises students to enjoy their time at Berea with other friends and to experience events. As for academics, Diana says, “Whatever you study, make sure you are going to enjoy it because you’re going to put so much time, effort, sweat, and tears into it— It might as well be something you enjoy learning about.” Diana encourages Latinxs students to be role models for others. She says, “Do it for your people, do it for your community, your family… do it for them but do it for you.” Diana believes in the impact, motivation, and difference Latinx professionals will have in the professional world.
After graduating, Diana plans to work as a state-certified nurse’s assistant for a year or two; afterward, she will apply to physician assistant (PA) programs to further her career. Diana specifically looks forward to fulfilling the responsibility she feels to serving Spanish-speaking patients.
Have questions or want to chat with Diana more about her story? Contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.