Michael Hernández is a sophomore at the University of Connecticut, double majoring in political science and economics, with an English minor. An active member of our Stamford campus community and an aspiring public servant, Michael is President of the Undergraduate Political Science Association, a columnist for our student newspaper The Daily Campus, a contributor to the Undergraduate Political Review, and a member of the Leadership Board of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. In his legislative advocacy, his political activism, and his service to his community, Michael advances the values of the Newman Civic Fellowship. An immigrant himself, Michael incorporates his personal story into both his scholarly pursuits and his community service efforts. He worked as a Campaign Fellow for Connecticut Students for a Dream, where he lobbied for the eventual passage of the Afford to Dream Act, which gives undocumented students in Connecticut access to financial aid at state colleges and universities. And he is currently spearheading a project in Stamford that seeks to increase enrollment in Advanced Placement (AP) classes among high school students who self-identify as Black or Latino. A polyglot who is fluent in several languages, Michael hopes to attend law school after graduation.
We are all shaped by the different communities we belong to. For me, the immigrant community–which is really a network of entrepreneurs and risk-takers–has paved a natural path to pursue social change through public policy. In my view, society is constructed through public policy. Thus, the most effective way of addressing the root causes of social issues is by enacting innovative public policies. Along these lines, I worked with Connecticut Students for a Dream to help pass the Afford to Dream Act, which gives undocumented students in Connecticut access to financial aid at state colleges and universities. Similarly, I am working on a project to increase enrollment in Advanced Placement (AP) classes among students who self-identify as Black or Latino by creating a visual campaign to address racial disparities in education in Stamford. I believe that the inherently entrepreneurial spirit of immigrants like me, channeled through the power of public policy, can help solve social issues. I hope to bring this perspective and experience to the Newman Civic Fellowship program, and I look forward to engaging in dialogue and collaborative work with other young leaders who care about these and similar issues.