Dear Mission San Rafael Rotary Club, My name is Fatima Hernandez. I am a former scholastic scholarship recipient via the College readiness program 10,000 Degrees. I received my first interview with the Mission San Rafael Rotary my senior year of high school in 2017. It was an honor to even be eligible for the scholarship in the first place, let alone find out that I had been chosen to receive the award. This past June I graduated from UC Santa Cruz and earned my Bachelor's degree! I double majored in Psychology as well as Education, Democracy, and Justice. Time really flew by!!

I would like to begin by saying Thank you. Thank you so much for all you do to help students and organizations in the Marin community. I am a first generation college student. My family emigrated from El Salvador when I was five years old.

30 September 2021

Dear Mission San Rafael Rotary Club, My name is Fatima Hernandez. I am a former scholastic scholarship recipient via the College readiness program 10,000 Degrees. I received my first interview with the Mission San Rafael Rotary my senior year of high school in 2017. It was an honor to even be eligible for the scholarship in the first place, let alone find out that I had been chosen to receive the award. This past June I graduated from UC Santa Cruz and earned my Bachelor's degree! I double majored in Psychology as well as Education, Democracy, and Justice. Time really flew by!!

I would like to begin by saying Thank you. Thank you so much for all you do to help students and organizations in the Marin community. I am a first generation college student. My family emigrated from El Salvador when I was five years old. I learned a new language, worked hard in school, and signed up for several college readiness programs like AVID, Aim High and 10,000 Degrees. In high school, my favorite subject was English. I loved reading the assigned books cover to cover and analyzing them in a class. With this love for English and a strong GPA, I was able to graduate high school. And when the time came to choose which University I would attend, thanks to you, I was able to attend UCSC without hesitation. I was able to focus on my studies, my passions, and my growth as an individual instead of worrying about financial stability. I was able to purchase my textbooks and materials, buy necessary supplies for my dorm, stock up on groceries for the week, and even have a bit left over to invite a friend for lunch after a long day of midterms. For this, THANK YOU!!

At UCSC, I chose to study psychology in the hopes of learning about human behavior, social psychology, and developmental patterns in young adults. Majoring in psychology helped me become more aware. It helped me understand the importance of mental health and the huge milestones we encounter throughout our lives. On the other hand, I like to think that the Education, Democracy, and Justice major found me. I always loved working with students, but the courses I took at UCSC shone a critical light on the American education system. I became passionate about social justice and critical race theory, as well as teaching as a future career. 

Sadly, my entire senior year of college was online due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. I packed my things and moved back home. It was challenging and stressful but I was finally able to complete my degree--one of my parents biggest dreams. 

Now that I have graduated, I am working at Laurel Dell Elementary school in their after school program. I am passionate about working with students and getting to know them. My favorite part is seeing their amazing growth both academically and personally throughout the school year. For now, I am planning to take a small break from school and focus on my mental health as well as on becoming a better educator during these challenging times. Soon though, I am planning to go back to school to receive my Master’s degree in Education and receive my teaching credential. 

My family and myself cannot thank you enough for your help. We are overwhelmed by your kindness and for helping me fulfill one of my biggest life goals. I will leave you with some words from my mom: “God bless you for your help and support. I pray that God multiplies your generosity and fills your lives with blessings.” 

With love,  Fatima Hernandez and Family