by Jesus Chavez, University Communications | February 10, 2016
Meet Daisy Hernández ’12. Every day, the UTSA alumna works at her dream job as an advocate providing legal aid to vulnerable immigrant children and refugees with nowhere else to turn.
Hernández, 28, works for the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), a local nonprofit that provides free and low-cost services to immigrant and refugee communities. As a Board of Immigration Appeals-accredited representative for RAICES’ children’s program, she represents minors in immigration legal proceedings and educates them and their families about their rights and the resources that are available to them.
“I am grateful for the education and experiences that I acquired while I was a student at UTSA,” said Hernández. “Professors like Dr. Marie Miranda and Dr. Josie Mendez Negrete, my classes and my fellow students all helped me build the experience and self-confidence that I needed to complete my studies and build my wonderful career.”
Now in her fourth year at RAICES, Hernández says that she and her colleagues have helped thousands of minors and families from across Central and South Texas. In 2014, the RAICES team faced its biggest challenge: It provided assistance to more than 2,000 immigrant refugee minors that were detained at nearby Lackland Air Force Base.
“We dedicated ourselves to helping these children in their time of need,” said Hernández, adding that more than 60 percent of the children had viable claims for humanitarian relief.
The research Hernández and her colleagues gathered helped RAICES testify before a U.S. Congressional hearing.
“We believe that our work helped influence the national discourse,” she said. “It was the most memorable and life-changing summer of my life, and it was thanks to my background and experiences at UTSA that I could be there to help.”
Hernández, a second-generation U.S. citizen, graduated from UTSA in 2012 with two bachelor’s degrees, one in anthropology and the other in Mexican American Studies. While at UTSA, she was a member of the Mexican American Studies Student Organization (MASSO).
“I worked full-time so I had to split my focus sometimes, but I am so grateful for the experiences and support I received,” said Hernández. “Without the amazing mentors in the Mexican American Studies program, it’s possible that I may not have had the drive to finish my education and do what I am doing now.”
View the original story on UTSA Today: http://www.utsa.edu/today/2016/02/hernandez.html
Photo courtesy of University Communications
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