Meet Luis Hernandez. Read his Transforming Story.

My name is Luis D. Hernandez and I am scheduled to graduate from University of Mount Olive on August 27.  I will be the first person in my extended family to earn a college degree.  I was born and raised in Puerto Rico.  Since 2002 I have been serving and living on Seymour Johnson AFB, Goldsboro, North Carolina.  On August 1, 2011 he will be promoted to Technical Sergeant.

I started my educational journey at University of Mount Olive in 2004.  Earning my BAS in psychology has not been an easy undertaking while serving in the United States Air Force.  The biggest obstacle has been that all of my classes have been in a language that is not my primary one, since I spoke only Spanish until I was 21 years of age. It has also been extremely difficult to schedule classes and fulfill those class assignments while working 10-12 hours daily, sometimes even working weekends.  Over the years I have completed several TDYs including one year in Korea from 2004 to 2005; I went through two, four month overseas deployments, one in Iraqi and one in Afghanistan; and my last special assignment was in Texas from July-October 2010.  All of these TDYs delayed my coursework, and ultimately my graduation.

Nevertheless, once I got back from my special assignment in Texas in October 2010, my main priority was to finish all my classes and graduate.  This too was a challenge since the final courses I needed were scheduled to begin two weeks prior to my return.  However, thanks to the exceptional professors in the Department of Psychology, especially Dr. Prunty and Dr. Cavanagh, I was able to enroll and take the classes two weeks later upon my arrival.  Their understanding and assistance directly enabled me to finish all of my degree requirements and will enable me to graduate in August.

Walking on stage to receive my diploma this fall will be the culmination of a journey that took seven long years to accomplish.  I am living proof that the American Dream is still alive.  No matter where you come from and no matter what obstacles you face in life, if you believe in your dreams and work hard, you can achieve anything!  I am thankful for the quality of education that I have obtained from University of Mount Olive.  Above all, I am thankful for the assistance and mentoring that I have received from the professors.  In addition, I am very grateful for the support, encouragement, and sacrifices made by my wife Valerie and my two sons, Kaiden Nicolas (11) and Daniel Alexander (10).  This degree belongs to them as much as it belongs to me.  But most of all, I am very thankful to the United States of America for giving me the honor to serve and for all the opportunities and blessings that it has given me.

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University of Mount Olive will graduate approximately 250 students at its 58th summer commencement on Saturday, August 27, 2011.  Graduation exercises are scheduled for 2:00 PM. in the George and Annie Dail Kornegay Arena.  The commencement speaker will be the Honorable Louis Pate, North Carolina Senator.