Andrea Hernandez is a Class of 2019 Posse Foundation Scholar at Mount Holyoke College from Miami, FL. She is self-designing a major in American Studies with a focus on issues facing Latina/o populations in the United States. Andrea's involvement in a community-based learning class called "Scholarly Pathways" helped to establish a continuing program of district-wide support for engaging the significant Spanish-speaking in Holyoke (over 50% of the city's population). "Spanish Corps" continues to provides translations of policy materials, guidebooks and other documents not readily accessible for non-English speaking families in a predominantly Spanish-speaking community. From her earliest days at Mount Holyoke, Andrea has involved herself in the College's "Creating Awareness for Unity and Social Equity" (C.A.U.S.E.) organization, the campus's student-led volunteer service group. Now in her sophomore year, Andrea is the organization's co-chair, responsible for advising and connecting the Mount Holyoke student body with area communities and service projects, through partnerships with local agencies, awareness raising events and volunteer projects throughout the Pioneer Valley including Holyoke, Chicopee, Springfield, Amherst and South Hadley.
Civic engagement calls for reciprocity. It is understanding that service should not be a one-way street, but an exchange. That said, my understanding of civic engagement is constantly evolving. Working closely with academic advisers, I am self-designing a major in American Studies with a focus on issues facing Latina/o populations in the United States, from immigration to access to housing and education. As the daughter of Cuban immigrants, I sought a program of study that valued my lived experiences and inspired me to dive deeper and begin to imagine solutions. Through my work on Mount Holyoke College's Spanish Corps, I am able to use my native tongue to empower parents to become active participants in their children's education by bridging existing language gaps in the local public schools. As a Community-Based Learning Fellow, I have the unique opportunity to chair my campus' umbrella community service organization, review service project proposals, and offer guidance to students looking to become involved in the community.