Leda Hernandez: growing to bring goodness to others
Leda Hernandez is an advocate for disadvantaged youth and has spent her career aiding young people in reaching their potential. She is following her own dreams as a current student in USC’s School of Social Work with hopes to help her community overcome disadvantages and inspire hope.
What did you want to be when you were younger? Please tell us about how those dreams transformed into your present/ future dreams and achievements.
When I was younger, I always dreamed of being an archeologist and discover history. Over the years, I decided that these jobs were not as popular and my need to help my community was growing. When I attended UC Santa Cruz, I had the opportunity of exercising my right to use my voice and petition for the rights of affordable education for all students. I realized that I would have to seek jobs and even attain a masters of social work at USC to create policy change and program development for communities who don’t have access to resources or are disadvantaged. I currently attend USC’s School of Social Work and plan on using my degree to help communities of color have equal access to education and support. I want to break the cycle of violence and help youth achieve their goals and reach their potential.
What barriers or hurdles did you overcome in trying to follow your dreams?
I was able to have more confidence in my decisions and speak my mind. For many years, I questioned whether my voice would make any change. I achieved a position to fight and advocate for educational rights for foster youth and I was able to make change and improve the educational confidence of the many foster youth that I work with. I had to stop being quiet and ask questions whether I felt they were stupid or not. My awareness and ability to speak were my biggest hurdles as well as being first generation and the first to go to college. I learned to lean on myself and seek answers and opportunities in order to improve my own well-being.
What advice would you give someone following in your footsteps?
Don’t be afraid to question things and feel free to speak your mind. Chase your dreams and don’t give up-- even when it gets hard. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel!
Thank you, Leda, for sharing your story! If you have any questions about Leda’s journey, achievements, or dreams, leave them in the comments below!