For many adults, going to college can be an intimidating experience. Their younger classmates don’t always get their pop culture references, not to mention the struggles of balancing parenting, work life and classwork. But for Tennessee Tech University graduate Guadalupe Hernandez this was just the change she needed.
Hernandez worked for the Department of Human Services for many years, but she was looking for a change, even though she loved her job. At the time, the department had too many employees and was looking for a way to downsize.
“I voluntarily retired through them, and because of my seniority I had I was able to retire and receive two years of community college paid by them,” she said.
Even though she never saw herself going to college, Hernandez thought there might be something interesting to learn. She attended Vol State and received her Associate of Science in general studies.
“Being at a community college allowed me to learn how to build relationships with people and get involved because I am generally extremely anxious. It was helpful that the classes were smaller, so it was easier to talk to people and build relationships from there,” she said.
After receiving her associate's degree, Hernandez didn’t want to stop there. She wanted to try and receive her bachelor’s degree, which would make her the first person in her family to accomplish a higher education degree.
“It was a really good experience [at Vol State]. But the biggest thing I always go by is something my father taught me, and that is no te rajes, meaning keep going, don’t give up, you’re going to do it and don’t quit,” she said. “There’s always a way to get where you want, and there’s always a goal; if you want it bad enough, you’re going to get there, and here I am, a first-generation college student about to graduate with a bachelor’s degree.”
On Friday, Dec. 9, Hernandez graduated with a major in professional studies concentrating on international organizational leadership. She hopes to use this degree to start her own business or work in a human resources department that needs to be rebuilt. She finds it important for companies to understand why having that type of department is important.
Hernandez credits Vol State for teaching her fundamentals that encouraged her to overcome her anxiety and allowed her to step out of her comfort zone once she got to Tech. During her time at Tech, she participated as a trailblazer, a work-study student, working at the call center in admissions and holding two outside work positions to help further her career.
“For transfer students, I know we have trouble asking for help. So just take the first step, get in the door, and talk to somebody about opportunities. There's a lot of things that you can, and people at Tech, they'll help you with anything, stuff like that. There are many ways you could make what you enjoy a journey,” she said.