Scholarship Recipient, Fulbright Scholar Arelí Hernandez ’19
How do you go from being the first in your family to attend college to becoming a Fulbright Scholar? Just ask Arelí Hernandez ’19.
“My financial aid package allowed me to come to SCU. Without it, my family and I could have never afforded it. I was able to take advantage of so many opportunities unique to SCU: a campus with such caring and devoted faculty, a space to create community, and a focus on discernment and vocation. I had life-changing experiences studying abroad in the U.K. and Ecuador, where I worked for a non-profit that lobbied for women’s and immigrants’ rights. I worked with faculty who believed in me. When I doubted myself, my professors at Santa Clara—especially in ethnic studies—empowered me. The coursework in ethnic studies equipped me with a critical and compassionate lens to view the world.
It pushed me to apply for and earn a Fulbright Scholarship through which I have the opportunity to share the multicultural and multilingual diversity of the U.S. I am working in Colombia, where I am partnering with a non-profit organization that works with Venezuelan migrants passing through and living in Tunja. I teach 12 English classes per week at Universidad de Boyacá and am learning to utilize the university classroom as a vehicle for crucial discussions of race, ethnicity, gender, and migration in both the U.S. and Colombia. Together with my students, we are unpacking the recent and continuous flows of Venezuelan migration to Colombia as well as Colombia’s history of internal displacement due to the armed conflict that has affected the country since 1964.
Creating this space for dialogue has further fueled me to pursue a career as an ethnic studies professor and create a classroom rooted in the liberation of my students, their communities, and society as a whole. Living in Colombia has both furthered my understanding about international Latin American migration and challenged me to engage others in a critical dialogue about transnationalism, migration, displacement, and the social and physical construction of borders.
In addition, with these experiences, I hope to show my three younger siblings the opportunities out there for us to learn about the world, its people, and ourselves."