In January, Claudia (pronounced CLOUD-ee-ah) Hernandez joined the Don and Susie Law Engineering Success Center in the Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering as Outreach and Equity Coordinator. Engineering Source sat down with Claudia for a quick conversation about her and her new job.
Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
A: I am from a very small town in Colorado, Fort Lupton. I have two younger siblings. Both my parents immigrated from Mexico before I was born, they had a huge influence on me attending higher education. I attended CSU for my undergrad and graduated in 2015 with a major in International Studies with a European Concentration and minors in Business and Spanish. I worked in the Office of Admissions for two years as an Admissions Counselor, and my territories were partnership high schools and southern Colorado students. At the time, my brother was completing his Mechanical Engineering degree, and he graduated in Spring 2019. That was my connection to engineering. I started the Student Affairs in Higher Education graduate program, and I started a practicum at the
engineering Student Success Center because Rachael Johnson (Manager of Strategic Recruitment Initiatives) and I had connected through Admissions. That developed my passion of continuing that access work through outreach and recruitment.
Q: What will you be doing in your new job?
A: My position is threefold. I’ll be working with the diversity programs in engineering and providing more structure and encouraging collaboration. Together we have the ability to reach out to more current students on campus and make an impact. Another aspect of my role is helping with summer program initiatives. This opportunity is really exciting because it goes back to my intention of providing access and being able to do outreach into the community to promote our programs to the K-12 system. The other part of my position is working with the outreach team. Our outreach team consists of students who work with us to engage students within local communities in Colorado to demonstrate the exciting opportunities in engineering.
Q: Why did you want to work in engineering?
A: When my brother was completing his program, I saw my brother struggle. The feeling of helplessness at not being able to support him made me want to learn more about what we offer. Some students aren’t aware of all the resources we have at the college. I’m here to be a bridge, whether that’s with our diverse student organizations, connecting with undergraduate students or making that connection to high schools as to making this career path a reality regardless of a student’s background.
Q: What do you do in your spare time?
A: I’m currently finishing my last semester of graduate school – I will be graduating in May. A lot of my spare time will be devoted to my studies. When I get a chance, I visit my family. I also have a side business where I create items that represent my Mexican American culture. I make jewelry and I make banners, based on a game (Lotería) that’s very popular in Mexican American culture. I make things that represent my own personal experiences and values. I love crafting – I love creating things with my hands. As a professional, I would go to stores and was trying to find something that represented me in home décor. I couldn’t find anything that spoke to me, so I started making my own things. Eventually, it helped me with (paying for) books and fees.
Q: How do you connect with people?
A: I’m an observer, I like to observe people. I love to people watch and getting to know people on a more personal level. There’s a transactional side to work – we have these obligations. But I always like to get to know people more on a personal level – their hobbies, interests – and to share my heritage. I am the way I am because my parents spent a lot of time raising us to be proud of our heritage and throughout my educational journey, I have found ways to be authentic to my personal identities and where I come from.