Marine veteran Jorge Hernandez graduated in 2020 with a degree in business administration. He works at the Veteran Services Center as an education specialist.
“I’m trying to return a favor,” Hernandez said. “A lot of people here were the reason I was able to finish school.”
Hernandez and his sister left El Salvador for California when Hernandez was a teenager.
“In my senior year of high school, 9-11 happened,” he said. “I joined the Marine Corps the day after.”
Hernandez was “boots on the ground” by 2003. He served for more than 11 years, earning the rank of sergeant. He was wounded twice in combat.
“For a lot of people, coming from the war, it’s hard to get past the events that happened there,” he said.
He advises fellow veterans to remember Boise State offers them a support system.
“Don’t try to go to school alone. I was once one of those vets who sat in the back of the classroom and didn’t speak. I want other veterans to know that we have an open-door policy, even if you just need an ear to listen.”
Hernandez and his fiancée Candice Reid are parents to three daughters, Melanie, 16, Shyanne, 13, and Cadence, 5. On what would have been his graduation day had the pandemic not caused the ceremony’s cancellation, he and his family visited the iconic Boise State “B” to take photos. Hernandez chose this moment to propose to Reid.
“I wanted to do it then, ” Hernandez said. “It meant so much to me, a kid from El Salvador. I didn’t think I would ever graduate from a four-year university in the United States. Now I get to help other first-generation and non-traditional students finish their degrees.”