Yumara Hernandez, Liberal Arts
For Liberal Arts major Yumara Hernandez, her journey in higher education started with numerous sacrifices and will now end in triumph.
Hernandez is a native of Beach Haven, but her roots are in Mexico. Her mother made the difficult decision to leave their home for better opportunities here in the United States in order to support their family and Hernandez’s educational dreams. This decision is something that Hernandez doesn’t take lightly.
Her mother has been a powerful source of inspiration for the future K-12 Spanish teacher.
“Since I was little, my mom has done her best to provide me with an education and has shown me what living in a country with a language barrier is like,” Hernandez said. “My mom taught and pushed me to keep my native language while still learning English because she knew the importance of knowing two languages.
“Without my mom, I wouldn’t be where I am, as she was my biggest teacher,” she said. “I want to give what my mom has given me to my community and teach a language that has pushed me to become a better version of myself. I want to show the importance of culture and learning just as much as my mom showed me.”
Soon, Hernandez will be able to make this dream a reality. She credits Stockton with helping her gain a network of peers.
“It’s essential to have (other students) around you who know what it’s like in Education and to have someone in your corner to rant to,” Hernandez said. “As an educator, it’s always important to know other educators to brainstorm and keep in touch with other districts around the one you end up in. But at the end of the day, the people who went through the program with me have become friends I love and care about.”
Throughout her time at Stockton, Hernandez has faced many ups and downs. One down: another very difficult decision that her mother had to make.
Once I graduate, I want to teach Spanish... My Mexican background is very important to me and defines part of who I am. Language and culture are closely linked, allowing me to teach something I love."
“My mom’s twin had been sick for a bit and unexpectedly passed away during my second-to-last semester, when I was in the middle of my 100 hours of observing in the education program,” Hernandez shared. “My mom has worked to give her family and me a better life. She was debating about leaving for Mexico but knew she couldn’t return if she left.”
Armed with the resilience that her mother gave her Hernandez made the tough decision.
“I felt horrible because I couldn’t imagine what she was going through. I wanted to make my family proud, especially my mom, so I knew I had to be strong. I showed my mom that she didn’t have to worry and that she raised me to be strong and independent. I finished the semester with A’s and was there for my mom and family. Throughout any obstacle I face, I think of my family and push to make them proud,” she said.
Thankfully, it hasn’t all been like this for Hernandez. She had the opportunity to translate for artist Pedro Fuller for a virtual studio tour sponsored by the Southern Jersey Cultural Alliance. The experience was a significant one for her that both led to more opportunities within the Alliance and demonstrated the significance of translation services to community building.
“People in our community should not be restricted for not speaking English,” Hernandez said. “They must also have access to services or any form of information like anyone else. By translating for Pedro Fuller, we take another step toward overcoming those barriers. This translation allowed many people with a different background than Pedro or who did not speak Spanish to hear his story and see his art.”
Watch Yumara in action, translating for Pedro Fuller's virtual studio tour:
Hernandez plans to educate and inspire her future students just like her professors did for her.
“I have been blessed to have some great mentors and professors in the program. All my professors here at Stockton have always wanted the best for me and have pushed me to become a better person and future educator,” Hernandez said.
“Once I graduate, I want to teach Spanish to either middle or high school students. My Mexican background is very important to me and defines part of who I am. Language and culture are closely linked, allowing me to teach something I love. By learning a language, students gain insight into the customs, beliefs, and values of those who speak that language. This can foster greater tolerance and understanding of different cultures. I want to teach students the beauty that is within diversity,” she said.
“Through teaching Spanish, I want to show my students that anything is possible, no matter their background. You can be what you want to be and do what you want as long as you put your mind to it, even through the difficult times life puts you through.”