Alma Hernandez

Alma Hernandez

Beta Lambda, University of Arizona

 

“No, next time.” “Why don’t you wait your turn?” “You’re not seasoned enough.” “You need more experience.”

These are the opinions Alma Hernandez says she has heard often and has chosen to ignore time and again on her path to creating change in her community.

“I, for one, have made it a mission of mine to continue fighting and pushing for what I believe in and want regardless of what others think,” she says.

Only in her mid-twenties, Hernandez has already overcome many naysayers, completing her master’s in public health on a full scholarship (the first in her family) and now running for the Arizona State House of Representatives. She focuses on the issues of education, women’s rights, criminal justice reform and healthcare.

Her political involvement started early. At age 14, she was the victim of an attack by high schooler seniors, which left her with severe spinal damage and exposed her to the criminal justice system. She explains that seeing the system and the school-to-prison pipeline firsthand and learning how it can work against people of color fueled her career in activism. But she also knew she needed her degrees.

“Working in politics while going to school full time is not easy to do, especially when you are determined to make a difference to help others in your community but school remains a top priority in your life,” Hernandez says. “I was told I would never go to college or do anything with my life when I was just a young girl.”

It was while at college that Hernandez met the women of Alpha Chi Omega, who provided her with a much-needed home after the death of her best friend. She recalls the understanding and love of her sisters, and looks back on the chapter’s diversity and support of all members with pride. And after graduation, it was time to take that support along with her as she began her master’s program while simultaneously preparing to run for office.

“After completing my bachelor’s, I was determined to prove everyone wrong and continue my education and push for more diversity and representation in higher education and politics because I found out that was the only way we could create change in our communities,” she says.

While she is running for office to effect change at the policy level, Hernandez is also committed to hands-on action in her community, volunteering at health and wellness fairs, fundraising for DACA students, and advocating for quality and affordable healthcare. She explains that her political work and her public health work are equally necessary and tie in directly with civic engagement and community activism.

Hernandez is committed to encouraging women to seek the heights professionally, and she can look to her Alpha Chi Omega experience as a motivator.

“When they said to me, ‘a lifetime of friendship and opportunities,’ I didn’t really understand what they meant until now,” Hernandez explains. “Now that I’m running for office, I think of all the real, strong women who have paved the way for us, and I hope to make my sisters proud.”


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