| || |
José R. Hernandez
At the age of 19, José R. Hernandez came to the United States to live with his uncle in Prince Georges County, Maryland. José spoke no English and did a variety of menial labor jobs to make a living. He arrived in the U.S. with a dream to be the first person in his family to earn a college degree and to have a better life. At the age of 28, José decided to take action and enrolled at Howard Community College (HCC) in Howard County, Maryland. After visiting various community colleges, he selected HCC because he felt welcomed and was confident he would get the support that was necessary for him to succeed. José had to take a number of remedial classes and master the English language. Remarkably, he trained to become a licensed practical nurse in 2002 and then earned his RN and AA degrees in the next year.
Upon graduation, José became employed as a nurse at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, Maryland and then moved on to a position with the military at Walter Reed Naval Hospital. It was now 2008 and José still had a strong desire to get a bachelor’s degree. He came upon a small ad in the local community newspaper about Excelsior College and was advised to attend a meeting at HCC to learn more. At that meeting he realized that Excelsior was the perfect college for him. He was confident he would get the support he needed just as Howard had provided for him when pursuing his associate’s degree. It was determined he needed only 11 courses to get his BS in nursing. Approximately 90 credits were accepted from HCC and he did not have to do a practicum as he was working as a nurse and had completed one at HCC.
In February 2011 and at the age of 39, José successfully completed the remaining courses necessary to earn his BS in nursing. José experienced the thrill of walking across the stage to receive his diploma at Excelsior College’s graduation exercise in Albany, NY on July 8, 2011. It took 20 years from the time José arrived in America to get his BS degree, but nothing stopped him from realizing his dream. His next goal is to earn a master’s degree in nursing from Excelsior College.